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ARTS AND CRAFTS ESSAYS 



<^rts and Crafts Sssays 



By 

Members of the Arts and Crafts 
Exhibition Society 



With a Preface 
By WilHam Morris 



iLontron 
RIVINGTON, PERCIVAL, & CO. 

1893 



PREFACE 

npHE papers that follow this need no 
^ explanation, since they are directed 
towards special sides of the Arts and 
Crafts. Mr. Crane has put forward the 
aims of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition 
Society as an Exhibition Society, there- 
fore I need not enlarge upon that phase 
of this book. But I will write a few 
words on the way in which it seems 
to me we ought to face the present 
position of that revival in decorative art 
of which our Society is one of the 
tokens. 

And, in the first place, the very fact 



n ^OiQ 



Preface, that there is a " revival " shows that the 
arts aforesaid have been sick unto death. 
In all such changes the first of the new 
does not appear till there is little or no 
life left in the old, and yet the old, even 
when it is all but dead, goes on living in 
corruption, and refuses to get itself put 
quietly out of the way and decently 
buried. So that while the revival 
advances and does some good work, the 
period of corruption goes on from worse 
to worse, till it arrives at the point when 
it can no longer be borne, and disappears. 
To give a concrete example : in these 
last days there are many buildings 
erected which (in spite of our eclecticism, 
our lack of a traditional style) are at 
least well designed and give pleasure 
to the eye ; nevertheless, so hopelessly 
hideous and vulgar is general building 
that persons of taste find themselves 
regretting the brown brick box with its 



VI 



feeble and trumpery attempts at orna- Preface. 

ment, which characterises the style of 

building current at the end of the last 

and beginning of this century, because 

there is some style about it, and even 

some merit of design, if only negative. 

The position which we have to face 

then is this : the lack of beauty in 

modern life (of decoration in the best 

sense of the word), which in the earlier 

part of the century was unnoticed, is now 

recognised by a part of the public as an 

evil to be remedied if possible ; but by 

far the larger part of civilised mankind ' 

does not feel that lack in the least, so 

that no general sense of beauty is extant 

which would force us into the creation of 

a feeling for art which in its turn would 

force us into taking up the dropped links 

of tradition, and once more producing 

genuine organic art. Such art as we 

have is not the work of the mass of 

vii 



Preface, craftsmen unconscious of any definite 
style, but producing beauty instinctively ; 
conscious rather of the desire to turn out 
a creditable piece of work than of any 
aim towards positive beauty. That is 
the essential motive power towards art 
in past ages ; but our art is the work of 
a small minority composed of educated 
persons, fully conscious of their aim 
of producing beauty, and distinguished 
from the great body of workmen by the 
possession of that aim. 

I do not, indeed, ignore the fact 
that there is a school of artists belonging 
to this decade who set forth that beauty 
is not an essential part of art ; which 
they consider rather as an instrument for 
the statement of fact, or an exhibition of 
the artist's intellectual observation and 
skill of hand. Such a school would seem 
at first sight to have an interest of its own 
as a genuine traditional development 



Vm 



of the art of the eighteenth century, Preface, 
which, like all intellectual movements 
in that century, was negative and de- 
structive ; and this all the more as 
the above-mentioned school is connected 
with science rather than art. But on 
looking closer into the matter it will be 
seen that this school cannot claim any 
special interest on the score of tradition. 
For the eighteenth century art was quite 
unconscious of its tendency towards ugli- 
ness and nullity, whereas the modern 
" Impressionists " loudly proclaim their 
enmity to beauty, and are no more un- 
conscious of their aim than the artists of 
the revival are of their longing to link 
themselves to the traditional art of the 
past. 

Here we have then, on the one hand, 
a school which is pushing rather than 
drifting into the domain of the empirical 

science of to-day, and another which can 

ix 



Preface, only work through its observation of an 
art which was once organic, but which 
died centuries ago, leaving us what by 
this time has become but the wreckage 
of its brilliant and eager life, while at the 
same time the great mass of civilisation 
lives on content to forgo art almost 
altogether. Nevertheless the artists of 
both the schools spoken of are un- 
doubtedly honest and eager in pursuit 
of art under the conditions of modern 
civilisation ; that is to say, that they have 
this much in common with the schools of 
tradition, that they do what they are im- 
pelled to do, and that the public would 
be quite wrong in supposing them to be 
swayed by mere affectation. 

Now it seems to me that this impulse 
in men of certain minds and moods 
towards certain forms of art, this genuine 
eclecticism, is all that we can expect 
under modern civilisation ; that we can 



expect no general impulse towards the Preface, 
fine arts till civilisation has been trans- 
formed into some other condition of life, 
the details of which we cannot foresee. 
Let us then make the best of it, and 
admit that those who practise art must 
nowadays be conscious of that practice ; 
conscious I mean that they are either 
adding a certain amount of artistic beauty 
and interest to a piece of goods which 
would, if produced in the ordinary way, 
have no beauty or artistic interest, or that 
they are producing something which has 
no other reason for existence than its 
beauty and artistic interest. But having 
made the admission let us accept the con- 
sequences of it, and understand that it 
is our business as artists, since we desire 
to produce works of art, to supply the 
lack of tradition by diligently cultivating 
in ourselves the sense of beauty {pace 
the Impressionists), skill of hand, and 



XI 



Preface, nlceness of observation, without which 
only a makeshift of art can be got ; and 
also, so far as we can, to call the attention 
of the public to the fact that there are a 
few persons who are doing this, and even 
earning a livelihood by so doing, and that 
therefore, in spite of the destructive 
tradition of our immediate past, in spite 
of the great revolution in the production 
of wares, which this century only has 
seen on the road to completion, and 
which on the face of it, and perhaps 
essentially, is hostile to art, in spite of 
all difficulties which the evolution of the 
later days of society has thrown in the 
way of that side of human pleasure which 
is called art, there is still a minority 
with a good deal of life in it which is 
not content with what is called utilitarian- 
ism, which, being interpreted, means the 
reckless waste of life in the pursuit of 

the means of life, 
xii 



It is this conscious cultivation of art Preface, 
and the attempt to interest the public in 
it which the Arts and Crafts Exhibition 
Society has set itself to help, by calling 
special attention to that really most 
important side of art, the decoration of 
utilities by furnishing them with genuine 
artistic finish in place of trade finish. 

WILLIAM MORRIS. 

Jtih 1893. 



Xlll 



CONTENTS 

Of the Revival of Design and Handi- 
craft : with Notes on the Work of the 
Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society- 
Walter Crane .... 

Textiles. William Morris 

Of Decorative Painting and Design 
Walter Crane . . . 

Of Wall Papers. Walter Crane 

FiCTiLEs. G. T. Robinson 

Metal Work. W. A. S. Benson 

Stone and Wood Carving. Somers Clarke 

Furniture. Stephen Webb 

Stained Glass. Somers Clarke 

Table Glass. Somers Clarke , 

Printing. William Morris and Emery- 
Walker . . . . 

XV 



I 

22 

39 
52 
62 
68 
81 
89 
98 
106 



Contents. Bookbinding. T. J. Cobden-Sanderson . 1 34 
Of Mural Painting. F. Madox Brown . 149 
Of Sgraffito Work. Heywood Sumner . 161 
Of Stucco and Gesso. G. T. Robinson . 172 
Of Cast Iron. W. R. Lethaby . .184 

Of Dyeing as an Art. William Morris . 196 
Of Embroidery. May Morris . .212 

Of Lace. Alan S. Cole .... 224 

Of Book Illustration and Book Decora- 
tion. Reginald Blomfield . . •237 
Of Designs and Working Drawings. 

Lewis F. Day ..... 249 

Furniture AND THE Room. Edward S. Prior 261 
Of the Room and Furniture. Halsey 

Ricardo ...... 274 

The English Tradition. Reginald Blom- 
field 289 

Carpenters' Furniture. W. R. Lethaby 302 
Of Decorated Furniture. J. H. Pollen . 310 
Of Carving. Stephen Webb . . .322 

Intarsia and Inlaid Wood-Work. T. G. 

Jackson . . . . . '330 
Woods and other Materials. Stephen 

Webb 345 

Of Modern Embroidery. Mary E, 

Turner 355 

xvi 



Of Materials. May Morris , 
Colour. May Morris 
Stitches and Mechanism. Alan S. Cole 
Design. John D. Sedding 
On Designing for the Art of Embroidery, 
Selwyn Image .... 



365 
376 

387 
405 

414 



Contents 



xvii 



OF THE REVIVAL OF DESIGN AND 
HANDICRAFT: WITH NOTES ON 
THE WORK OF THE ARTS AND 
CRAFTS EXHIBITION SOCIETY 

np HE decorative artist and the 
^ handicraftsman have hitherto had 
but little opportunity of displaying 
their work in the public eye, or 
rather of appealing to it upon strictly 
artistic grounds in the same sense as 
the pictorial artist ; and it is a some- 
what singular state of things that at a 
time when the Arts are perhaps more 
looked after, and certainly more talked 
about, than they have ever been before, 



Of the and the beautifying of houses, to those 
evival of ^Q whom it is possible, has become in some 

Design and ^ ^ 

Handicraft, cases almost a religion, so little is known 

._ . , of the actual designer and maker (as 
•^ " '•" *' '■■': distinct from the proprietary manu- 
facturer or middleman) of those familiar 
things which contribute so much to the 
comfort and refinement of life — of our 
chairs and cabinets, our chintzes and 
wall-papers, our lamps and pitchers — 
the Lares and Penates of our house- 
holds, which with the touch of time and 
association often come to be regarded 
with so peculiar an affection. 

Nor is this condition of affairs in 
regard to applied Art without an ex- 
planation, since it is undeniable that 
under the modern industrial system that 
personal element, which is so important 
in all forms of Art, has been thrust 
farther and farther into the background, 
until the production of what are called 



ornamental objects, and the supply of Of the 

ornamental additions generally, instead ^^vwal of 

. . . Design and 

of growmg out of organic necessities, Handicraft. 

have become, under a misapplication of 
machinery, driven by the keen com- 
petition of trade, purely commercial 
affairs — questions of the supply and 
demand of the market artificially stimu- 
lated and controlled by the arts of the 
advertiser and the salesman bidding 
against each other for the favour of a 
capricious and passing fashion, which too 
often takes the place of a real love of t 

Art in our days. 

Of late years, however, a kind of 
revival has been going on, as a protest 
against the conviction that, with all 
our modern mechanical achievements, 
comforts, and luxuries, life is growing 
" uglier every day," as Mr. Morris 
puts it. Even our painters are driven 
to rely rather on the accidental beauty 

3 



Of the which, like a struggling ray through 
Revival of ^ London fog, sometimes illumes and 
Handicraft, transfigures the sordid commonplace of 
everyday life. We cannot, however, 
live on sensational effects without im- 
pairing our sense of form and balance — 
of beauty, in short. We cannot con- 
centrate our attention on pictorial and 
graphic art, and come to regard it as the 
one form worth pursuing, without losing 
our sense of construction and power of 
adaptation in design to all kinds of very 
different materials and purposes — that 
sense of relation — that architectonic 
sense which built up the great monu- 
ments of the past. 

The true root and basis of all Art 
lies in the handicrafts. If there is no 
room or chance of recognition for really 
artistic power and feeling in design and 
craftsmanship — if Art is not recognised 
in the humblest object and material, and 
4 



felt to be as valuable in its own way as Of the 

the more highly rewarded pictorial skill Revival of 

1 . J Design and 

— the arts cannot be in a sound con- Handicraft. 

dition ; and if artists cease to be found 

among the crafts there is great danger 

that they will vanish from the arts also, 

and become manufacturers and salesmen 

instead. 

It was with the object of giving some 
visible expression to these views that 
the Exhibitions of the Arts and Crafts 
Society were organised. 

As was to be expected, many diffi- 
culties had to be encountered. In the 
endeavour to assign due credit to the 
responsible designer and workman, it 
was found sometimes difficult to do so 
amid the very numerous artificers (in 
some cases) who under our industrial 
conditions contribute to the production 
of a work. 

It will readily be understood that the 

5 



Of the organisation of exhibitions of this char- 
Revival of acter, and with such objects as have been 
Handicraft stated, is a far less simple matter than 
an ordinary picture exhibition. Instead 
of having an array of artists whose 
names and addresses are in every cata- 
logue, our constituency, as it were, 
outside the personal knowledge of the 
Committee, had to be discovered. 
Under the designation of So-and-so and 
Co. many a skilful designer and crafts- 
man may be concealed ; and individual 
and independent artists in design and 
handicraft are as yet few and far 
between. 

However, in the belief, as elsewhere 
expressed, that it is little good nourish- 
ing the tree at the head if it is dying 
at the root, and that, living or dying, 
the desirability of an accurate diagnosis 
while there is any doubt of our artistic 

health will at once be admitted, the 
6 



Society determined to try the experiment Of the 

and so opened their first Exhibition. ^^^/^^^ ""[ 

. . Design and 

The reception given to it having so Handicraft. 

far justified our plea for the due recog- 
nition of the arts and crafts of design, 
and our belief in their fundamental 
importance — the amount of public in- 
terest and support accorded to the 
Exhibition having, in fact, far exceeded 
our anticipations, it was determined to 
hold a second on the same lines, and to 
endeavour to carry out, with more com- 
pleteness than was at first found possible, 
those principles of work, ideas, and aims 
in art for which we contended, and to 
make the Exhibition a rallying point, as 
it were, for all sympathetic workers. 

Regarding design as a species of 
language capable of very varied ex- 
pression through the medium of different 
methods and materials, it naturally 
follows that there is all the difference 

7 



Of the in the world between one treatment and 

Revival of another, both of design and material ; 
Design and .... 

Handicraft. ^^^^ moreover, every material has its 

own proper capacity and appropriate 
range of expression, so that it becomes 
the business of the sympathetic work- 
man to discover this and give it due 
expansion. 

For the absence of this discriminating 
sense no amount of mechanical smooth- 
ness or imitative skill can compensate ; 
and it is obvious that any attempt to 
imitate or render the qualities peculiar 
to one material in another leads the 
workman on a false track. 

Now, we have only to consider how 
much of the work commonly produced, 
which comes under the head of what is 
called " industrial art," depends upon 
this very false quality of imitation 
(whether as to design or material) to 
show how far we have departed in the 



ordinary processes of manufacture and Of the 

standards of trade from primitive and Revival of 

. . . • rr^-i J 1 Design and 

true artistic instincts. The demand, Handicraft. 

artificially stimulated, is less for thought 
or beauty than for novelty, and all sorts 
of mechanical invention are applied, 
chiefly with the view of increasing the 
rate of production and diminishing its 
cost, regardless of the fact that anything 
in the nature of bad or false art is dear 
at any price. 

Plain materials and surfaces are in- 
finitely preferable to inorganic and in- 
appropriate ornament ; yet there is not 
the simplest article of common use made 
by the hand of man that is not capable 
of receiving some touch of art — whether 
it lies in the planning and proportions, 
or in the final decorative adornment ; 
whether in the work of the smith, the 
carpenter, the carver, the weaver, or the 
potter, and the other indispensable crafts. 

9 



Of the With the organisation of industry on 

Revival of ^j^^ grand scale, and the enormous ap- 
Design and ° • , • r 

Handicraft, p^ication ot machinery m the interests or 

competitive production for profit, when 
both art and industry are forced to make 
their appeal to the unreal and impersonal 
average^ rather than to the real and 
personal you and me, it is not wonder- 
ful that beauty should have become 
divorced from use, and that attempts to 
concede its demands, and the desire for 
it, should too often mean the ill- 
considered bedizenment of meaningless 
and unrelated ornament. 

The very producer, the designer, and 
craftsman, too, has been lost sight of, 
and his personality submerged in that 
of a business firm, so that we have 
reached the reductio ad ahsurdum of an 
impersonal artist or craftsman trying 
to produce things of beauty for an 
impersonal and unknown public — a 

lO 



purely conjectural matter from first to Of the 
last. ^^^/^^^ °^ 

Under such conditions it is hardly Handicraft, 
surprising that the arts of design should 
have declined, and that the idea of art 
should have become limited to pictorial 
work (where, at least, the artist may be 
known, in some relation to his public, 
and comparatively free). 

Partly as a protest against this state 
of things, and partly to concentrate the 
awakened feeling for beauty in the 
accessories of life, the Arts and Crafts 
Exhibition Society commenced their 
work. 

The movement, however, towards a 
revival of design and handicraft, the 
effort to unite — or rather to re-unite — 
the artist and the craftsman, so sundered 
by the industrial conditions of our 
century, has been growing and gather- 
ing force for some time past. It reflects 

II 



Of the in art the intellectual movement of 

evival of inquiry into fundamental principles and 
Design and . . , . ^ , 

Handicraft, necessities, and is a practical expression 

of the philosophy of the conditioned. It 
is true it has many different sides and 
manifestations, and is under many differ- 
ent influences and impelled by different 
aims. With some the question is 
closely connected with the commercial 
prosperity of England, and her prowess 
in the competitive race for wealth ; 
with others it is enough if the social 
well-being and happiness of her people 
is advanced, and that the touch of art 
should lighten the toil of joyless lives. 
The movement, indeed, represents in 
some sense a revolt against the hard 
mechanical conventional life and its in- 
sensibility to beauty (quite another thing 
to ornament). It is a protest against 
that so-called industrial progress which 
produces shoddy wares, the cheapness 



of which is paid for by the lives of their Of the 

producers and the degradation of their Revival of 
^ . Design and 

users. It is a protest against the turning Handicraft. 

of men into machines, against artificial 
distinctions in art, and against making 
the immediate market value, or possi- 
bility of profit, the chief test of artistic 
merit. It also advances the claim of all 
and each to the common possession of 
beauty in things common and familiar, 
and would awaken the sense of this 
beauty, deadened and depressed as it 
now too often is, either on the one hand 
by luxurious superfluities, or on the 
other by the absence of the commonest 
necessities and the gnawing anxiety for 
the means of livelihood ; not to speak 
of the everyday uglinesses to which we 
have accustomed our eyes, confiised by 
the flood of false taste, or darkened by 
the hurried life of modern towns in 
which huge aggregations of humanity 

13 



Of the exist, equally removed from both art and 
Revival of ^^^^^^ ^^^ ^j^^-^. j^.^^^i ^^^ refining 
Design and ° 

Handicraft, influences. 

It asserts, moreover, the value of the 
practice of handicraft as a good training 
for the faculties, and as a most valuable 
counteraction to that overstraining of 
purely mental eifort under the fierce 
competitive conditions of the day ; 
apart from the very wholesome and real 
pleasure in the fashioning of a thing 
• with claims to art and beauty, the 
struggle with and triumph over the 
stubborn technical necessities which re- 
fuse to be gainsaid. And, finally, thus 
claiming for man this primitive and 
common delight in common things made 
beautifiil, it makes, through art, the great 
socialiser for a common and kindred life, 
for sympathetic and helpfiil fellowship, 
and demands conditions under which 
your artist and craftsman shall be free. 
14 



" See how great a matter a little fire Of the 
kindleth." Some may think this is an Revival of 

. J Design and 

extensive programme — a remote ideal Handicraft 
for a purely artistic movement to touch. 
Yet if the revival of art and handicraft 
is not a mere theatric and imitative im- 
pulse ; if it is not merely to gratify a 
passing whim of fashion, or demand of 
commerce ; if it has reality and roots of 
its own ; if it is not merely a delicate 
luxury — a little glow of colour at the 
end of a sombre day — it can hardly 
mean less than what I have written. 
It must mean either the sunset or the 
dawn. 

The success which had hitherto at- 
tended the efforts of our Society, the 
sympathy and response elicited by the 
claims which had been advanced by us on 
behalf of the Arts and Crafts of Design, 
and (despite difficulties and imper- 
fections) I think it may be said the 

15 



Of the character of our exhibitions, and last, 

Revival of j^^^ ^^^ |g^3^^ ^j^^ public interest and 
Design and . 

Handicraft, support, manifested in various ways, 

and from different parts of the country, 
went far to prove both their necessity 
and importance. 

We were therefore encouraged to 
open a third Exhibition in the autumn 
of 1 890. In this last it was the Society's 
object to make in it leading features of 
two crafts in which good design and 
handicraft are of the utmost importance, 
namely. Furniture and Embroidery ; and 
endeavours were made to get together 
good examples of each. 

It may be noted that while some 

/ well-known firms, who had hitherto 

held aloof, now exhibited with us, the 

old difficulty about the names of the 

responsible executants continued ; but 

while some evaded the question, others 

were models of exactitude in this 
16 



respect, proving that in this as in Of the 

other questions where there is a will ^^^^^^^ °^ 

^ Design and 

there is a way. Handicraft. 

The Arts and Crafts Exhibition 
Society, while at first, of necessity, de- 
pending on the work of a comparatively 
limited circle, had no wish to be narrower 
than the recognition of certain funda- 
mental principles in design will allow, 
and, indeed, desired but to receive and 
to show the best after its kind in con- 
temporary design and handicraft. Judg- 
ment is not always infallible, and the 
best is not always forthcoming, and in 
a mixed exhibition it is difficult to 
maintain an unvarying standard. At 
present, indeed, an exhibition may be 
said to be but a necessary evil ; but it 
is the only means of obtaining a standard, 
and giving publicity to the works of 
Designer and Craftsman ; but it must 

be more or less of a compromise, and of 
c 17 



Of the course no more can be done than to 

Revival of niake an exhibition of contemporary 
Design and , • r • j i 

Handicraft ^^^^ representative or current ideas and 

skill, since it is impossible to get outside 
our own time. 

In some quarters it appears to have 
been supposed that our Exhibitions are 
intended to appeal, by the exhibition of 
cheap and saleable articles, to what are 
rudely termed " the masses " ; we appeal 
to all certainly, but it should be re- 
membered that cheapness in art and 
handicraft is well-nigh impossible, save 
in some forms of more or less mechanical 
reproduction. In fact, cheapness as a 
rule, in the sense of low-priced produc- 
tion, can only be obtained at the cost 
of cheapness — that is, the cheapening of 
human life and labour ; surely, in reality, 
a most wasteful and extravagant cheap- 
ness ! It is difficult to see how, under 

present economic conditions, it can be 
i8 



otherwise. Art is, in its true sense, Of the 
after all, the crown and flowering of life ^^^/^"^ °^' 

° Design and 

and labour, and we cannot reasonably Handicraft, 
expect to gain that crown except at the 
true value of the human life and labour 
of which it is the result. 

Of course there is the difl^erence of 
cost between materials to be taken into 
account : a table may be of oak or of 
deal ; a cloth may be of silk or of 
linen ; but the labour, skill, taste, intelli- 
gence, thought, and fancy, which give 
the sense of art to the work, are much 
the same, and, being bound up with 
human lives, need the means of life in its 
completion for their proper sustenance. 

At all events, I think it may be said 
that the principle of the essential unity 
and interdependence of the arts has 
been again asserted — the brotherhood 
of designer and craftsman ; that goes for 
something, with whatever imperfections 

19 



Of the or disadvantages its acknowledgment 
Revival of j^^^g ^ggj^ obscured. 

Design and 
Handicraft. ^^ putting this principle before the 

public, the Arts and Crafts Exhibition 
Society has availed itself from the first 
of both lecture and essay, as well as 
the display of examples. Lectures and 
demonstrations were given during the 
progress of the Exhibitions, and essays 
written by well-known workers in the 
crafts of which they treated have ac- 
companied the catalogues. These papers 
have now been collected together, and 
revised by their authors, and appear in 
book form under the editorship of Mr. 
William Morris, whose name has been 
practically associated with the revival of 
beauty in the arts and crafts of design 
in many ways before our Society came 
into existence, and who with his co- 
workers may be said to have been the 
pioneer of our English Renascence, which 



it is our earnest desire to foster and Of the 

perpetuate. J^^"^'' °^ 

Design and 
Every movement which has any sub- Handicraft. 

stance and vitality must expect to encounter 

misrepresentation, and even abuse, as well 

as sympathy and support. In its work, so 

far, the Society to which I have the honour 

to belong has had its share of both, perhaps. 

Those pledged to the support of 

existing conditions, whether in art or 

social life, are always sensitive to attacks 

upon their weak points, and it is not 

possible to avoid touching them to any 

man who ventures to look an inch or 

two beyond the immediate present. But 

the hostility of some is as much a mark 

of vitality and progress as the sympathy 

of others. The sun strikes hottest as 

the traveller climbs the hill ; and we 

must be content to leave the value of 

our work to the unfailing test of time. 

Walter Crane. 

21 



TEXTILES 

I HERE are several ways of orna- 
menting a woven cloth : (i) real 
tapestry, ( 2 ) carpet-weaving, ( 3 ) mechani- 
cal weaving, (4) printing or painting, 
and (5) embroidery. There has been 
no improvement (indeed, as to the main 
processes, no change) in the manufac- 
ture of the wares in all these branches 
since the fourteenth century, as far as 
the wares themselves are concerned ; 
whatever improvements have been in- 
troduced have been purely commercial, 
and have had to do merely with reduc- 
ing the cost of production ; nay, more, 
22 



the commercial improvements have on Textiles, 
the whole been decidedly injurious to 
the quality of the wares themselves. 

The noblest of the weaving arts is 
Tapestry, in which there is nothing 
mechanical : it may be looked upon as a 
mosaic of pieces of colour made up of 
dyed threads, and is capable of produc- 
ing wall ornament of any degree of 
elaboration within the proper limits of 
duly considered decorative work. 

As in all wall-decoration, the first 
thing to be considered in the designing 
of Tapestry is the force, purity, and 
elegance of the silhouette of the objects 
represented, and nothing vague or in- 
determinate is admissible. But special 
excellences can be expected from it. 
Depth of tone, richness of colour, and 
exquisite gradation of tints are easily to 
be obtained in Tapestry ; and it also 
demands that crispness and abundance 

23 



Textiles, of beautiful detail which was the especial 
characteristic of fully developed Mediaeval 
Art. The style of even the best period 
of the Renaissance is wholly unfit for 
Tapestry: accordingly we find that 
Tapestry retained its Gothic character 
longer than any other of the pictorial 
arts. A comparison of the wall-hangings 
in the Great Hall at Hampton Court 
with those in the Solar or Drawing- 
room, will make this superiority of the 
earlier design for its purpose clear to 
any one not lacking in artistic percep- 
tion: and the comparison is all the 
fairer, as both the Gothic tapestries of 
the Solar and the post-Gothic hangings 
of the Hall are pre-eminently good of 
their kinds. Not to go into a descrip- 
tion of the process of weaving tapestry, 
which would be futile without illustra- 
tions, I may say that in contradistinction 

to mechanical weaving, the warp is quite 
24 



hidden, with the result that the colours Textiles, 
are as solid as they can be made in 
painting. 

Carpet-weaving is somewhat of the 
nature of Tapestry: it also is wholly 
unmechanical, but its use as a floor- 
cloth somewhat degrades it, especially 
in our northern or western countries, 
where people come out of the muddy 
streets into rooms without taking off 
their shoes. Carpet-weaving undoubt- 
edly arose among peoples living a tent 
life, and for such a dwelling as a tent, 
carpets are the best possible ornaments. 

Carpets form a mosaic of small 
squares of worsted, or hair, or silk 
threads, tied into a coarse canvas, which 
is made as the work progresses. Owing 
to the comparative coarseness of the 
work, the designs should always be 
very elementary in form, and suggestive 
merely of forms of leafage^ flowers, 

25 



Textiles, beasts and birds, etc. The soft grada- 
tions of tint to which Tapestry lends 
itself are unfit for Carpet-weaving ; 
beauty and variety of colour must be 
attained by harmonious juxtaposition of 
tints, bounded by judiciously chosen 
outlines; and the pattern should lie 
absolutely flat upon the ground. On 
the whole, in designing carpets the 
method of contrast is the best one to 
employ, and blue and red, quite frankly 
used, with white or very light out- 
lines on a dark ground, and black or 
some very dark colour on a light ground, 
are the main colours on which the 
designer should depend. 

In making the above remarks I have 
been thinking only of the genuine or 
hand-made carpets. The mechanically- 
made carpets of to-day must be looked 
upon as makeshifts for cheapness' sake. 

Of these, the velvet pile and Brussels 
26 



are simply coarse worsted velvets woven Textiles, 
over wires like other velvet, and cut, in 
the case of the velvet pile ; and Kidder- 
minster carpets are stout cloths, in which 
abundance of warp (a warp to each 
weft) is used for the sake of wear and 
tear. The velvet carpets need the same 
kind of design as to colour and quality 
as the real carpets ; only, as the colours 
are necessarily limited in number, and 
the pattern must repeat at certain 
distances, the design should be simpler 
and smaller than in a real carpet. A 
Kidderminster carpet calls for a small 
design in which the different planes, or 
plies, as they are called, are well inter- 
locked. 

Mechanical weaving has to repeat the 
pattern on the cloth within compara- 
tively narrow limits ; the number of 
colours also is limited in most cases to 
four or five. In most cloths so woven, 

27 



Textiles, therefore, the best plan seems to be to 
choose a pleasant ground colour and to 
superimpose a pattern mainly composed 
of either a lighter shade of that colour, 
or a colour in no very strong contrast 
to the ground; and then, if you are 
using several colours, to light up this 
general arrangement either with a more 
forcible outline, or by spots of stronger 
colour carefilly disposed. Often the 
lighter shade on the darker suffices, and 
hardly calls for anything else: some 
very beautiful cloths are merely damasks, 
in which the warp and weft are of the 
same colour, but a different tone is 
obtained by the figure and the ground 
being woven with a longer or shorter 
twill : the tahhy being tied by the warp 
very often, the satin much more rarely. 
In any case, the patterned webs pro- 
duced by mechanical weaving, if the 

ornament is to be effective and worth 
28 



the doing, require that same Gothic Textiles. 
crispness and clearness of detail which 
has been spoken of before: the geo- 
metrical structure of the pattern, which 
is a necessity in all recurring patterns, 
should be boldly insisted upon, so as to 
draw the eye from accidental figures, 
which the recurrence of the pattern is 
apt to produce. 

The meaningless stripes and spots 
and other tormentings of the simple 
twill of the web, which are so common 
in the woven ornament of the eighteenth 
century and in our own times, should 
be carefully avoided : all these things 
are the last resource of a jaded invention 
and a contempt of the simple and fi-esh 
beauty that comes of a sympathetic 
suggestion of natural forms: if the 
pattern be vigorously and firmly drawn 
with a true feeling for the beauty of 
line and silhouette, the play of light and 

29 



Textiles, shade on the material of the simple 
twill will give all the necessary variety. 
I invite my readers to make another 
comparison : to go to the South Kensing- 
ton Museum and study the invaluable 
fragments of the stuffs of the thirteenth 
and fourteenth centuries of Syrian and 
Sicilian manufacture, or the almost 
equally beautiful webs of Persian design, 
which are later in date, but instinct with 
the purest and best Eastern feeling ; 
they may also note the splendid stuffs 
produced mostly in Italy in the later 
Middle Ages, which are unsurpassed for 
richness and effect of design, and when 
they have impressed their minds with 
the productions of this great historic 
school, let them contrast with them the 
work of the vile Pompadour period, 
passing by the early seventeenth century 
as a period of transition into corruption. 
They will then (if, once more, they 
30 



have real artistic perception) see at once Textiles, 
the difference between the results of 
irrepressible imagination and love of 
beauty, on the one hand, and, on the 
other, of restless and weary vacuity of 
mind, forced by the exigencies of fashion 
to do something or other to the innocent 
surface of the cloth in order to distin- 
guish it in the market from other cloths ; 
between the handiwork of the free 
craftsman doing as he pleased with his 
work, and the drudgery of the " opera- 
tive " set to his task by the tradesman 
competing for the custom of a frivolous 
public, which had forgotten that there 
was such a thing as art. 

The next method of ornamenting 
cloth is by painting it or printing on it 
with dyes. As to the painting of cloths 
with dyes by hand, which is no doubt 
a very old and widely practised art, 
it has now quite disappeared (modern 

31 



Textiles, society not being rich enough to pay 
the necessary price for such work), 
and its place has now been taken by 
printing by block or cylinder-machine. 
The remarks made on the design for 
mechanically woven cloths apply pretty 
much to these printed stuffs: only, in 
the first place, more play of delicate and 
pretty colour is possible, and more 
variety of colour also ; and in the 
second, much more use can be made of 
hatching and dotting, which are obvi- 
ously suitable to the method of block- 
printing. In the many-coloured printed 
cloths, frank red and blue are again the 
mainstays of the colour arrangement; 
these colours, softened by the paler 
shades of red, outlined with black and 
made more tender by the addition of 
yellow in small quantities, mostly form- 
ing part of brightish greens, make up 
the colouring of the old Persian prints, 
32 



which carry the art as far as it can be Textiles, 
carried. 

It must be added that no textile orna- 
ment has suiFered so much as cloth- 
printing from those above-mentioned 
commercial inventions. A hundred 
years ago the processes for printing on 
cloth differed little from those used by 
the Indians and Persians ; and even up 
to within forty years ago they produced 
colours that were in themselves good 
enough, however inartistically they might 
be used. Then came one of the most 
wonderflzl and most useless of the in- 
ventions of modern Chemistry, that of 
the dyes made from coal-tar, producing 
a series of hideous colours, crude, livid — 
and cheap, — which every person of taste 
loathes, but which nevertheless we can by 
no means get rid of until we are able to 
struggle successfully against the doom of 

cheap and nasty which has overtaken us. 
D 33 



Textiles. Last o£ the methods of ornamenting 
cloth comes Embroidery : of the design 
for which it must be said that one 
of its aims should be the exhibition of 
beautiflil material. Furthermore, it is 
not worth doing unless it is either very 
copious and rich, or very delicate — or 
both. For such an art nothing patchy 
or scrappy, or half-starved, should be 
done : there is no excuse for doing any- 
thing which is not strikingly beautiful ; 
and that more especially as the exuber- 
ance of beauty of the work of the East 
and of Mediaeval Europe, and even of 
the time of the Renaissance, is at hand 
to reproach us. It may be well here to 
warn those occupied in Embroidery 
against the feeble imitations of Japanese 
art which are so disastrously common 
amongst us. The Japanese are admir- 
able naturalists, wonderfully skilful 
draughtsmen, deft: beyond all others in 
34 



mere execution of whatever they take Textiles. 
in hand ; and also great masters of style 
within certain narrow limitations. But 
with all this, a Japanese design is ab- 
solutely worthless unless it is executed 
with Japanese skill. In truth, with all 
their brilliant qualities as handicraftsmen, 
which have so dazzled us, the Japanese 
have no architectural, and therefore no 
decorative, instinct. Their works of 
art are isolated and blankly individual- 
istic, and in consequence, unless where 
they rise, as they sometimes do, to the 
dignity of a suggestion for a picture 
(always devoid of human interest), they 
remain mere wonderful toys, things 
quite outside the pale of the evolution 
of art, which, I repeat, cannot be carried 
on without the architectural sense that 
connects it with the history of mankind. 
To conclude with some general re- 
marks about designing for textiles : the 

35 



Textiles, aim should be to combine clearness of 
form and firmness of structure with the 
mystery which comes of abundance and 
richness of detail ; and this is easier of 
attainment in woven goods than in flat 
painted decoration and paper-hangings ; 
because in the former the stuffs usually 
hang in folds and the pattern is broken 
more or less, while in the latter it is 
spread out flat against the wall. Do 
not introduce any lines or objects which 
cannot be explained by the structure of 
the pattern; it is just this logical 
sequence of form, this growth which 
looks as if, under the circumstances, it 
could not have been otherwise, which 
prevents the eye wearying of the re- 
petition of the pattern. 

Never introduce any shading for the 

purpose of making an object look 

round ; whatever shading you use should 

be used for explanation only, to show 

36 



what you mean by such and such a Textiles, 
piece of drawing ; and even that you 
had better be sparing of. 

Do not be afraid of large patterns; 
if properly designed they are more rest- 
ful to the eye than small ones : on the 
whole, a pattern where the structure is 
large and the details much broken up is 
the most useful. Large patterns are not 
necessarily startling ; this comes more 
of violent relief of the figure from 
the ground, or inharmonious colouring : 
beautiful and logical form relieved from 
the ground by well-managed contrast or 
gradation, and lying flat on the ground, 
will never weary the eye. Very small 
rooms, as well as very large ones, look 
best ornamented with large patterns, 
whatever you do with the middling- 
sized ones. 

As final maxims : never forget the 
material you are working with, and try 

37 



Textiles, always to use it for doing what it can do 
best : if you feel yourself hampered by 
the material in which you are working, 
instead of being helped by it, you have 
so far not learned your business, any 
more than a would-be poet has, who 
complains of the hardship of writing 
in measure and rhyme. The special 
limitations of the material should be 
a pleasure to you, not a hindrance : 
a designer, therefore, should always 
thoroughly understand the processes of 
the special manufacture he is dealing 
with, or the result will be a mere tour de 
force. On the other hand, it is the 
pleasure in understanding the capabi- 
lities of a special material, and using 
them for suggesting (not imitating) 
natural beauty and incident, that gives 
the raison d'etre of decorative art. 

William Morris. 



38 



OF DECORATIVE PAINTING 
AND DESIGN 

npHE term Decorative painting im- 
^ plies the existence of painting 
which is not decorative : a strange state 
of things for an art which primarily and 
pre-eminently appeals to the eye. If we 
look back to the times when the arts 
and crafts were in their most flourishing 
and vigorous condition, and dwelt to- 
gether, like brethren, in unity — say to 
the fifteenth century — such a distinction 
did not exist. Painting only differed in 
its application, and in degree, not in 
kind. In the painting of a MS., of 

39 



Of Decora- the panels of a cojfFer, of a ceiling, a 

tivePainting ^^^^ ^^ ^^ altar-piece, the painter 
and Design. . . 

was alike — however different his theme 

and conception — possessed with a para- 
mount impulse to decorate, to make the 
space or surface he dealt with as lovely 
to the eye in design and colour as he 
had skill to do. 

The art of painting has, however, 
become considerably differentiated since 
those days. We are here in the nine- 
teenth century encumbered with many 
distinctions in the art. There is obvi- 
ously much painting which is not decora- 
tive, or ornamental in any sense, which 
has indeed quite other objects. It may 
be the presentment of the more super- 
ficial natural facts, phases, or accidents 
of light; the pictorial dramatising of 
life or past history ; the pointing of a 
moral ; or the embodiment of romance 

and poetic thought or symbol. Not 
40 



but what It is quite possible for a painter Of Decora- 

to deal with such things and yet to tive Painting 

and Design, 
produce a work that shall be decorative. 

A picture, of course, may be a piece 
of decorative art of the most beautiful 
kind ; but to begin with, if it is an easel 
picture, it is not necessarily related to 
anything but itself: its painter is not 
bound to consider anything outside its 
own dimensions ; and, indeed, the 
practice of holding large and mixed 
picture-shows has taught him the use- 
lessness of so doing. 

Then, too, the demand for literal 
presentment of the superficial facts or 
phases of nature often removes the 
painter and his picture still farther from 
the architectural, decorative, and con- 
structive artist and the handicraftsman, 
who are bound to think of plan, and 
design, and materials — of the adaptation 

of their work, in short — while the painter 

41 



Of Decora- seeks only to be an unbiassed recorder 

tive Painting ^f ^|| accidents and sensational conditions 
and Design. 

of nature and life, — and so we get our 

illustrated newspapers on a grand scale. 

An illustrated newspaper, however, in 
spite of the skill and enterprise it may 
absorb, is not somehow a joy for ever ; 
and, after all, if literalism and instant- 
aneous appearances are the only things 
worth striving for in painting, the 
photograph beats any painter at that. 

If truth is the object of the modern 
painter of pictures — truth as distinct from 
or opposed to beauty — beauty is certainly 
the object of the decorative painter, 
but beauty not necessarily severed from 
truth. Without beauty, however, decor- 
ation has no reason for existence ; indeed 
it can hardly be said to exist. 

Next to beauty, the first essential of 

a decoration is that it shall be related to 

its environment, that it shall express or 
42 



acknowledge the conditions under which Of Decora- 
it exists. If a fresco on a wall, for tive Painting 
, , ,, . 1 and Design, 
instance, it adorns the wall without 

attempting to look like a hole cut in it 
through which something is accidentally 
seen ; if a painting on a vase, it acknow- 
ledges the convexity of the shape, and 
helps to express instead of contradicting 
it ; if on a panel in a cabinet or door, 
it spreads itself in an appropriate filling 
on an organic plan to cover it ; being, 
in short, ornamental by its very nature, 
its first business is to ornament. 

There exist, therefore, certain definite 
tests for the work of the decorative artist. 
Does the design fit its place and material ? 
Is it in scale with its surroundings and 
in harmony with itself? Is it fair and 
lovely in colour? Has it beauty and 
invention? Has it thought and poetic 
feeling? These are the demands a 
decorator has to answer, and by his 

43 



Of Decora- answer he must stand or fall ; but such 

tive Painting questions show that the scope of decora- 
and Design. . 

tion IS no mean one. 

It must be acknowledged that a 
mixed exhibition does not easily afford 
the fairest or completest tests of such 
qualities. An exhibition is at best a 
compromise, a convenience, a means of 
comparison, and to enable work to be 
shown to the public; but of course is, 
after all, only really and properly exhi- 
bited when it is in the place and position 
and light for which it was destined. 
The tests by which to judge a designer's 
work are only complete then. 

As the stem and branches to the 
leaves, flowers, and fruit of a tree, so 
is design to painting. In decoration 
one cannot exist without the other, as 
the beauty of a figure depends upon 
the well-built and well-proportioned 
skeleton and its mechanism. You cannot 
44 



separate a house from its plan and Of Decora- 
foundations. So it is in decoration ; tivePainting 
r 1- 1 1 1 • ^^^ Design, 
often thought of hghtly as something 

trivial and superficial, a merely aimless 
combination of curves and colours, or a 
mere rechauffe of the dead languages 
of art, but really demanding the best 
thought and capacity of a man ; and in 
the range of its application it is not less 
comprehensive. 

The mural painter is not only a 
painter, but a poet, historian, drama- 
tist, philosopher. What should we 
know, how much should we realise, of 
the ancient world and its life without 
him, and his brother the architectural 
sculptor? How would ancient Egypt 
live without her wall paintings — or 
Rome, or Pompeii, or Mediaeval Italy ^ 
How much of beauty as well as of 
history is contained in the illuminated 
pages of the books of the Middle Ages ! 

45 



Of Decora- Some modern essays in mural painting 

tive Painting s^ow that the habit of mind and method 
and Design. 

of work fostered by the production of 

trifles for the picture market is not 
favourable to monumental painting. 
Neither the mood nor the skill, indeed, 
can be grown like a mushroom ; such 
works as the Sistine Chapel, the Stanzi 
of Raphael, or the Apartimenti Borgia, 
are the result of long practice through 
many centuries, and intimate relation- 
ship and harmony in the arts, as well as 
a certain unity of public sentiment. 

The true soil for the growth of the 
painter in this higher sense is a rich 
and varied external life : familiarity 
from early youth with the uses of 
materials and methods, and the hand 
facility which comes of close and constant 
acquaintanceship with the tools of the 
artist, who sums up and includes in 

himself other crafts, such as modelling, 
46 



carving, and the hammering of metal, Of Decora- 
architectural design, and a knowledge tive Painting 
of all the ways man has used to beautify 
and deck the surroundings and acces- 
sories of life to satisfy his delight in 
beauty. 

We know that painting was strictly 
an applied art in its earlier history, and 
all through the Middle Ages painters 
were in close alliance with the other 
crafts of design, and their work in 
one craft no doubt reacted on and 
influenced that in another, while each 
was kept distinct. At all events, painters 
like Albert Diirer and Holbein were 
also masters of design in all ways. 

Through the various arts and crafts 
of the Greek, Mediaeval, or Early Re- 
naissance periods, there is evident, from 
the examples which have come down to 
us, a certain unity and common char- 
acter in design, asserting itself through 

47 



Of Decora- all diverse individualities : each art is kept 
tive Painting (distinct, with a complete recognition ot 
the capacity and advantages of its own 
particular method and purpose. 

In our age, for various reasons (social, 
commercial, economic), the specialised 
and purely pictorial painter is dominant. 
His aims and methods influence other 
arts and crafts, but by no means advan- 
tageously as a rule ; since, unchecked by 
judicious ideas of design, attempts are 
made in unsuitable materials to produce 
so-called realistic force, and superficial 
and accidental appearances dependent 
on peculiar qualities of lighting and 
atmosphere, quite out of place in any 
other method than painting, or in any 
place but an easel picture. 

From such tendencies, such influ- 
ences as these, in the matter of applied 
art and design, we are striving to 

recover. One of the first results is, 
48 



perhaps, this apparently artificial dis- OfDecora- 
tinction between decorative and other tive Painting 
_, 1 • 1 1 • 1 ^^<i Design, 

painting. But along with this we have 

painters whose easel pictures are in 
feeling and treatment quite adaptable as 
wall and panel decorations, and they are 
painters who, as a rule, have studied 
other methods in art, and drawn their 
inspiration from the mode of Mediaeval 
or Early Renaissance times. 

Much might be said of different 
methods and materials of work in de- 
corative painting, but I have hardly 
space here. The decorative painter 
prefers a certain flatness of effect, and 
therefore such methods as fresco, in 
which the colours are laid on while the 
plaster ground is wet, and tempera 
naturally appeal to him. In the latter 
the colours ground in water and used 
with size, or white and yolk of egg, or 

prepared with starch, worked on a dry 
E 49 



Of Decora- ground, drying lighter than when they 
tive Painting ^j.^ p^^ ^^^ h2LyQ a peculiar luminous 

quality, while the surface is free from 
any gloss. Both these methods need 
direct painting and finishing as the 
work proceeds. 

By a method of working in ordinary 
oil colours on a ground of fibrous plaster, 
using rectified spirit of turpentine or 
benzine as a medium, much of the 
quality of fi*esco or tempera may be 
obtained, with the advantage that the 
plaster ground may be a movable panel. 

There are, however, other fields for 
the decorative painter than wall paint- 
ing ; as, for instance, domestic furniture, 
which may vary in degree of elaboration 
from the highly ornate cassone or 
marriage coffer of Mediaeval Italy to 
the wreaths and sprays which decked 
chairs and bed-posts even within our 
century. There has been of late some 
50 



revival of painting as applied chiefly to Of Decora- 

the panels of cabinets, or the decoration "^e Painting 
f and Design, 

of piano fronts and cases. 

The same causes produce the same 
results. With the search after, and 
desire for, beauty in life, we are again 
driven to study the laws of beauty in 
design and painting ; and in so doing 
painters will find again the lost thread, 
the golden link of connection and inti- 
mate association with the sister arts and 
handicrafts, whereof none is before or 
after another, none is greater or less ■ 

than the other. 

Walter Crane. 



51 



OF WALL PAPERS 

\ A iTHILE the tradition and practice 
^ ^ of mural painting as applied to 
interior walls and ceilings of houses still 
linger in Italy, in the form of often 
skilflil if not always tasteful tempera 
work, in more western countries, like 
England, France, and America, under 
the economic conditions and customs of 
commercial civilisation, with its smoky 
cities, and its houses built by the hundred 
to one pattern, perhaps, and let on short 
terms, as regards domestic decoration — 
except in the case of a few wealthy 
freeholders — mural painting has ceased 
52 



to exist. Its place has been taken by Of Wall 
what after all is but a substitute for it, Papers, 
namely, wall paper. 

I am not aware that any specimen of 
wall paper has been discovered that has 
claims to any higher antiquity than the 
sixteenth century, and it only came 
much into use in the last, increasing in 
the present, until it has become well- 
nigh a universal covering for domestic 
walls, and at the same time has shown 
a remarkable development in design, 
varying from very unpretending patterns 
and printings in one colour to elaborate 
block-printed designs in many colours, 
besides cheap machine-printed papers, 
where all the tints are printed from the 
design on a roller at once. 

Since Mr. William Morris has shown 
what beauty and character in pattern, 
and good and delicate choice of tint can 
do for us, giving in short a new impulse 

53 



Of Wall in design, a great amount of ingenuity 
Papers. ^^^ enterprise has been spent on wall 
papers in England, and in the better 
kinds a very distinct advance has been 
made upon the patterns of inconceivable 
hideousness, often of French origin, of 
the period of the Second Empire — a 
period which perhaps represents the 
most degraded level of taste in decoration 
generally. 

The designer of patterns for wall 
papers heretofore has been content to 
imitate other materials, and adapt the 
characteristics of the patterns found, say, 
in silk damask hangings or tapestry, or 
even imitate the veining of wood, or 
marble, or tiles ; but since the revival 
of interest in art, the study of its history, 
and knowledge of style, a new impulse 
has been given, and patterns are con- 
structed with more direct reference to 
their beauty, and interest as such, while 
54 



strictly adapted to the methods of manu- Of Wall 
facture. Great pains are often taken by ^^pers. 
our principal makers to secure good 
designs and harmonious colourings, and 
though a manufacturer and director of 
works is always more or less controlled 
by the exigencies of the market and the 
demands of the tentative salesman — 
considerations which have no natural 
connection with art, though highly im- 
portant as economic conditions affecting 
its welfare — very remarkable results 
have been produced, and a special de- 
velopment of applied design may almost 
be said to have come into existence with 
the modern use of wall papers. The 
manufacture suffers like most others 
from the keenness and unscrupulousness 
of commercial competition, which leads 
to the production of specious imitations 
of bond fide designs, and unauthorised 
use of designs originally intended for 

55 



Of Wall Other purposes, and this of course presses 
apers. unfairly upon the more conscientious 
maker, so long as the public do not 
decline to be deceived. 

English wall papers are made in 
lengths 21 inches wide. French wall 
papers are i8 inches wide. This has 
probably been found most convenient in 
working in block-printing : it is obvious 
to any one who has seen the printers at 
work that a wider block than 2 1 inches 
would be unwieldy, since the block is 
printed by hand, being suspended from 
above by a cord, and guided by the 
workman's hand from the well of colour, 
into which it is dipped, to the paper flat 
on a table before him. 

The designer must work to the given 
width, and though his design may vary in 
depth, must never exceed 2 1 inches square, 
except where double blocks are used. 
His main business is to devise his pattern 
56 



so that it will repeat satisfactorily over Of Wall 
an indefinite wall space without running Papers, 
into awkward holes or lines. It may be 
easy enough to draw a spray or two of 
leaves or flowers which will stand by 
themselves, but to combine them in an 
organic pattern which shall repeat 
pleasantly over a wall surface requires 
much ingenuity and a knowledge of the 
conditions of the manufacture, apart 
from play of fancy and artistic skill. 

One way of concealing the joints of 
the repeat of the pattern is by contriving 
what is called a drop-repeat, so that, in 
hanging, the paper-hanger, instead of 
placing each repeat of pattern side by 
side, is enabled to join the pattern at a 
point its own depth below, which varies 
the effect, and arranges the chief features 
or masses on an alternating plan. 

The modern habit of regarding the 
walls of a room chiefly as a background 

57 



Of Wall to pictures, furniture, or people, and 
^P^^^* perhaps the smallness of the average 
room, has brought rather small, thickly- 
dispersed, leafy patterns into vogue, 
' retiring in colour for the most part. 
While, however, we used to see rotund 
and accidental bunches of roses (the 
pictorial or sketchy treatment of which 
contrasted awkwardly with their formal 
repetition), we now get a certain sense 
of adaptation, and the necessity of a 
certain flatness of treatment ; and most 
of us who have given much thought to 
the subject feel that when natural forms 
are dealt with, under such conditions, 
suggestion is better than any attempt 
at realisation, or naturalistic or pictorial 
treatment, and that a design must be 
constructed upon some systematic plan, 
if not absolutely controlled by a geo- 
metric basis. 

Wall papers are printed from blocks 
58 



prepared from designs, the outlines of Of Wall 
which are reproduced by means of flat Papers, 
brass wire driven edgeways into the 
wood block. One block for each tint is 
used. First one colour is printed on a 
length of paper, a piece of 1 2 yards long 
and 2 1 inches wide, which is passed over 
sticks suspended across the workshop. 
When the first colour is dry the next is 
printed, and so on ; the colours being 
mixed with size and put in shallow 
trays or wells, into which the blocks are 
dipped. 

A cheaper kind is printed by steam 
power from rollers on which the design 
has been reproduced in the same way by 
brass wire, which holds the colour ; but 
in the case of machine-printed papers 
all the tints are printed at once. Thus 
the pattern is often imperfect and 
blurred. 

A more elaborate and costly kind of 

59 



Of Wall wall paper is that which is stamped and 
Papers, gilded, in emulation of stamped and gilded 
leather, which it resembles in effect and 
quality of surface. For this method the 
design is reproduced in relief as a 
repoussee brass plate, and from this a 
mould or matrix is made, and the paper 
being damped is stamped in a press into 
the matrix, and so takes the pattern in 
relief, which is generally covered with 
white metal and lacquered to a gold hue, 
and this again may be rubbed in with 
black, which by filling the interstices 
gives emphasis to the design and darkens 
the gold to bronze ; or the gilded sur- 
face may be treated in any variety of 
colour by means of painting or lacquer, 
or simply relieved by colouring the 
ground. 

But few of us own our own walls, or 
the ground they stand upon : but few 

of us can afford to employ ourselves or 
60 



skilled artists and craftsmen in painting Of Wall 
our rooms with beautiful fancies : but if ^^P^^s. 
we can gQt well - designed repeating 
patterns by the yard, in agreeable tints, 
with a pleasant flavour perchance of 
nature or antiquity, for a few shillings 
or pounds, ought we not to be happy ? 
At all events, wall-paper makers should 
naturally think so. 

Walter Crane. 



6i 



FICTILES 

CARLIEST amongst the inventions 
^^ of man and his endeavour to unite 
Art with Craft is the Fictile Art. His 
first needs in domestic life, his first 
utensils, his first efforts at civilisation, 
came from the Mother Earth, whose 
son he believed himself to be, and his 
ashes or his bones returned to Earth 
enshrined in the fictile vases he created 
from their common clay. And these 
Fictiles tell the story of his first Art- 
instincts, and of his yearnings to unite 
beauty with use. They tell, too, more 

of his history than is enshrined and 
62 



preserved by any other art ; for almost all Fictiles. 
we know of many a people and many a 
tongue is learned from the fictile record, 
the sole relic of past civilisations which 
the Destroyer Time has left us. 

Begun in the simplest fashion, fash- 
ioned by the simplest means, created 
from the commonest materials, Fictile 
Art grew with man's intellectual growth, 
and Fictile Craft grew with his know- 
ledge ; the latter conquering, in this our 
day, when the craftsman strangles the 
artist alike in this as in all other arts. 
To truly foster and forward the art, the 
craftsman and the artist should, where 
possible, be united, or at least should 
work in common, as was the case when, 
in each civilisation, the Potter's Art 
flourished most, and when the scientific 
base was of less account than was the 
art employed upon it. In its earliest 
stages the local clay sufficed for the 

63 



Fictiles. formative portion of the work, and the 
faiences of most European countries 
offer more artistic results to us than 
do the more scientifically compounded 
porcelains. In the former case the 
native clay seemed more easily to ally 
itself with native art, to record more of 
current history, to create artistic genius 
rather than to be content with attempt- 
ing to copy misunderstood efforts of 
other peoples and other times. But 
when science ransacked the earth for 
foreign bodies and ingredients, foreign 
decorative ideas came with them and 
Fictile Art was no more a vernacular 
one. It attempted to disguise itself, to 
show the craftsman superior to the 
artist ; and then came the Manufacturer 
and the reign of quantity over quality, 
the casting in moulds by the gross and 
the printing by the thousands. Be it 
understood these remarks only apply to 
64 



the introduction of porcelain into Europe. Fictiles. 
In the East where the clay is native, the 
art is native ; the potter's hand and the 
wheel yet maintain the power of giving 
the potter his individuality as the creator 
and the artist, and save him from being 
but the servant and the slave of a 
machine. 

Between faience and porcelain comes, 
midway. Stoneware, in which many 
wonderfully, and some fearfully, made 
things have been done of late, but 
which possesses the combined qualities - 

of faience and porcelain — the ease of 
manipulation of the former, and the 
hardness and durability of the latter ; 
but the tendency to over-elaborate the 
detail of its decoration, and rely less on 
the beauty of its semi-glossy surface 
than on meretricious ornament, has 
rather spoiled a very hopeful movement 

in Ceramic Art. Probably the wisest 
F 65 



Fictiles. course to pursue at the present would 

be to pay more attention to faiences 

decorated with simple glazes or with 

" slip " decoration, and this especially in 

modelled work. A continuation of 

the artistic career of the Delia Robbia 

family is yet an unfulfilled desideratum, 

notwithstanding that glazed faiences 

have never since their time ceased to be 

made, and that glazed figure work of 

large scale prevailed in the eighteenth 

century. Unglazed terra cotta, an 

artistic product eminently suited to our 

climate and to our urban architecture, 

has but partially developed itself, and 

this more in the direction of moulded 

and cast work than that of really 

plastic art ; and albeit that from its 

dawn to this present the Fictile Art has 

been exercised abundantly, its role is 

by no means exhausted. The artist and 

the craftsman have yet a wide field 
66 



before them, but it would be well that Fictiles. 
the former should, for some while to 
come, take the lead. Science has too 
long reigned supreme in a domain 
wherein she should have been not more 
than equal sovereign. She has had her 
triumphs, great triumphs too, triumphs 
which have been fraught with good in an 
utilitarian sense, but she has tyrannised 
too rigidly over the realm of Art. Let 
us now try to equalise the dual rule. 

G. T. Robinson. 



67 



METAL WORK 

TN discussing the artistic aspect of 

^ metal work, we have to take into 

account the physical properties and 

appropriate treatment of the following 

metals : the precious metals, gold and 

silver ; copper, both pure and alloyed 

with other metals, especially tin and 

zinc in various proportions to form the 

many kinds of brass and bronze ; lead, 

with a group of alloys of which pewter 

is typical ; and iron, in the three forms 

of cast iron, wrought iron, and steel. 

All these have been made to serve the 

purpose of the artist, and the manipula- 
68 



tion of them, while presenting many IVietal Work, 
differences in detail, presents certain 
broad characteristics in common which 
distinguish them from the raw material 
of other crafts. Whether they are 
found native in the metallic state as is 
usual in the case of gold, or combined 
with many other minerals in the form of 
ore as is more common with other 
metals, fire is the primal agency by 
which they are made available for our 
needs. The first stage in their manipu- 
lation is to melt and cast them into • 
ingots of a size convenient to the 
purpose intended. Secondly, all these 
metals when pure, and many alloys, are 
in varying degree malleable and ductile, 
are, in fact, if sufficient force be applied, 
plastic. Hence arises the first broad 
division in the treatment of metals. 
The fluid metal may, by the use of 

suitable moulds, be cast at once to the 

69 



Metal Wc»k. shape required, or the casting may be 

treated merely as the starting-point for 

a whole series of operations — forging, 

rolling, chipping, chasing, wire-drawing, 

and many more. Another property of 

the metals which must be noticed is, 

that not only can separate masses of 

metals be melted down and fused into 

one, but it is possible, under various 

conditions, of which the one invariably 

necessary is perfectly clean surfaces of 

contact, to unite separate portions of the 

same or different metals without fusion 

of the mass. For our present purpose 

the most important instance of this is 

the process of soldering, by which two 

surfaces are united by the application of 

sufficient heat to melt more flisible metal 

which is introduced between them, and 

which combines with both so as firmly 

to unite them on solidifying. Closely 

allied to this are the processes by which 
70 



one metal is, for purposes of adornment Metal Work, 
or preservation from corrosion, coated 
with a thin film or deposit of another, 
usually more costly, metal. 

Though hereafter electro-metallurgy 
may assert its claim to artistic originality 
as a third division, for the present all 
metal work, so far as its artistic aspect 
depends upon process, falls naturally 
into one of the two broad divisions of 
cast metal and wrought metal. Both 
have been employed from a time long 
anterior to written history ; ornaments - 
of beaten gold, and tools of cast bronze, 
are alike found among the relics of very 
early stages of civilisation, and in early 
stages both alike are artistic. The 
choice between the two processes is 
determined by such considerations as 
convenience of manufacture and the 
physical properties of the metals, and 
the different purposes in view. When 

71 



Metal Work, a thick and comparatively massive shape 
is required, it is often easier to cast it 
at once. For thinner and lighter forms 
it is usually more convenient to treat the 
ingot or crude product of the furnace as 
mere raw material for a long series of 
workings under the hammer, or its patent 
mechanical equivalents, the rolling and 
pressing mills of modern mechanics. 
The choice is further influenced by the 
toughness generally characteristic of 
wrought metal, whereas the alloys which 
yield the cleanest castings are by no 
means universally the best in other 
respects. Iron is the extreme instance 
of this : ordinary cast iron being an im- 
pure form of the metal, which is too 
brittle to be worked under the hammer, 
but is readily cast into moulds, being 
fluid at a temperature which, though 
high, is easily obtained in a blast furnace. 
Wrought iron, however, which is usually 
72 



obtained from cast iron by a process called Metal Work, 
puddling, whereby the impurities are 
burnt out, does not become fluid enough 
to pour into moulds ; but on the other 
hand, pieces at a white heat can be united 
into a solid mass by skilful hammering, 
a process which is called welding, and, 
together with the fact that from its 
great hardness it is usually worked hot, 
is specially distinctive of the blacksmith's 
craft. In no other metal is the separa- 
tion between the two branches so wide 
as in iron. The misdirected skill of • 
some modern iron-founders has caused 
the name of cast iron to be regarded as 
the very negative of art, and has even 
thrown suspicion on the process of 
casting itself as one of questionable 
honesty. Nevertheless, as a craft capable 
of giving final shape to metal, it has 
manifestly an artistic aspect, and, in 
fact, bronze statuary, a fine art pure and 

73 



Metal Work, simple, is reproduced from the clay- 
model merely by moulding and casting. 
We must therefore look for the artistic 
conditions in the preparation of the 
model or pattern, the impress of which 
in sand or loam forms the mould ; the 
pattern may be carved in wood or 
modelled in clay, but the handling of 
the wood or clay is modified by the 
conditions under which the form is 
reproduced. And lastly, the finished 
object may either retain the surface 
formed as the metal solidifies, as in the 
case of the bronzes cast by the wax 
process, or the skin may be removed by 
the use of cutting tools, chisels and files 
and gravers, so that, as in the case of 
many of the better French bronzes, the 
finished work is strictly carved work. 
On the contrary, much silversmith's 
work, as well as such simple objects as 
Chinese gongs and Indian "lotahs," 
74 



after being cast approximately to shape Metal Work, 
are finished by hammer work, that is, 
treated as plastic material with tools 
that force the material into shape in- 
stead of cutting the shape out of the 
mass by removing exterior portions of 
material. Attempts to imitate both 
processes by casting only, thus dis- 
pensing with the cost of finishing, 
are common, but as they dispense 
likewise with all beauty in the product, 
even if they do not substitute varnished 
and tinted zinc for better metal, their ^ 
success is commercial only. 

We have thus three characteristic 
kinds of surface resulting from the con- 
ditions of treatment, marking out three 
natural divisions of the art : and be 
it noted that questions of surface or 
texture are all -important in the arts ; 
beauty is skin deep. First, the natural 
skin of the metal solidified in contact 

75 



Metal Work, with the mould, and more or less closely 
imitative of the surface of the original 
model, usually for our purposes a plastic 
surface ; secondly, there is carved, 
technically called chased, work ; and 
thirdly, beaten or wrought work, which 
in ornament is termed embossing. 

Superimposed on these we have the 
cross divisions of the crafts according to 
the special metal operated on, and in 
the existing industrial organisation the 
groups thus obtained have to be further 
divided into many sub-heads, according 
to the articles produced ; and finally, 
another commercial distinction has to be 
drawn which greatly affects the present 
condition of handicraft, that is, the 
division of the several trades into crafts- 
men and salesmen. There can be no 
doubt that the extent of the existing 
dissociation of the producing craftsman 

from the consumer is an evil for the arts, 
76 



and that the growing preponderance of Metal Work, 
great stores is inimical to excellence of 
workmanship. It is, perhaps, an advan- 
tage for the workman to be relieved 
from the office of salesman ; the position 
of the village smith plying his calling in 
face of his customers might not suit 
every craft, but the services of the 
middleman are dearly bought at the 
price of artistic freedom. It is too often 
in the power of the middleman to dic- 
tate the quality of workmanship, too 
often his seeming interest to ordain that * 
it shall be bad. 

The choice of a metal for any par- 
ticular purpose is determined by physical 
properties combined with considerations 
of cost. Iron, if only for its cheapness, 
is the material for the largest works of 
metal ; while in the form of steel it is 
the best available material for many very 
small works, watch-springs for instance : 

77 



Metal Work, it has the defect of liability to rust ; the 
surfaces of other metals may tarnish, but 
iron rusts through. For the present 
only one application of cast iron con- 
cerns us — its use for grates and stoves. 
The point to remember is, that as the 
material has but little beauty, its em- 
ployment should be restricted to the 
quantity prescribed by the demands of 
utility. Wrought iron, on the contrary, 
gives very great scope to the artist, and 
it offers this peculiar advantage, that the 
necessity of striking while the iron is 
hot enforces such free dexterity of 
handling in the ordinary smith, that he 
has comparatively little to learn if set 
to produce ornamental work, and thus 
renewed interest in the art has found 
craftsmen enough who could readily 
respond to the demand made upon 
them. 

Copper, distinguished among metals 
78 



by its glowing red tint, has as a material Metal Work. 
for artistic work been overshadowed by 
its alloys, brass and bronze ; partly be- 
cause they make sounder castings, partly 
it is to be feared from the approach of 
their colour to gold. Holding an inter- 
mediate position between iron and the 
precious metals, they are the material 
of innumerable household utensils and 
smaller architectural fittings. 

Lead, tin, and zinc scarcely concern 
the artist to-day, though neither plumber 
nor pewterer has always been restricted ? 
to plain utilitarianism. Gold and silver 
have been distinguished in all ages as 
the precious metals, both for their 
comparative rarity and their freedom 
from corrosion, and their extreme 
beauty. They are both extremely 
malleable and very readily worked. 
Unhappily there is little original English 
work being done in these metals. The 

79 



Metal Work, more ordinary wares have all life and 
feeling taken out of them by mechanical 
finish, an abrasive process being employed 
to remove every sign of tool-marks. The 
all-important surface is thus obliterated. 
As to design, fashion oscillates between 
copies of one past period and another. 
A comparison of one of these copies 
with an original will make the distinc- 
tion between the work of a man paid to 
do his quickest and one paid to do his 
best clearer than volumes of description. 
Indeed, when all is said, a writer can 
but indicate the logic that underlies the 
craft, or hint at the relation which 
subsists between the process, the material, 
and the finished ware: the distinction 
between good and bad in art eludes 
definition ; it is not an affair of reason, 
but of perception. 

W. A. S. Benson. 



80 



STONE AND WOOD CARVING 

'T^HE crafts of the stone and wood 
-^ carver may fairly be taken in 
review at the same time, although they 
differ in themselves. 

It is a misfortune that there should 
be so great a gulf as there is between 
the craftsman who is called, and con- 
siders himself to be properly called, " a 
sculptor " and his fellow-craftsman who 
is called '' a carver." In these days the 
'' sculptor " is but too often a man who 
would think it a condescension to execute 
what, for want of a better name, we 

must call decorative work. In truth, 
G 8i 



Stone and the sculptor IS the outcome of that 
Wood entire separation which has come about 
between the lov€ of beauty, once common 
in everyday life, and art, as it is now 
called — a thing degraded to the pur- 
poses of a toy, a mere ornament for the 
rich. The sculptor is trained to make 
these ornaments, things which have no 
relation to their surroundings, but which 
may be placed now in a drawing-room, 
now in a conservatory or a public square, 
alone and unsheltered. He is a child of 
the studio. 

The result of this training is, he has 
lost all knowledge how to produce work 
of a decorative character. He under- 
stands nothing of design in a wide sense, 
but being able to model a figure with toler- 
able success he rests therewith content. 
Being designed, as it is, in the studio, his 
work is wanting in sympathy with its 

surroundings ; it does not fall into its 
82 



place, it is not a part of a complete Stone and 
conception. ^°°^ 



Things were not so when sculpture 
and what, for want of a better term, we 
have called " stone and wood carving '* 
were at their prime. 

The Greek craftsman could produce 
both the great figure of the god, which 
stood alone as the central object in 
the temple, and (working in thorough 
sympathy with the architect) the decora- 
tive sculpture of less importance which 
was attached to the building round 
about, and without which the beauty 
of the fabric was incomplete. 

So also the great Florentine sculptors 
spent themselves with equal zeal on a 
door, the enclosure of a choir, a pulpit, 
or a tomb, which in those days meant 
not merely the effigy of the departed, but 
a complete design of many parts all full 
of beauty and skill. 

83 



Carving. 



Stone and In the great days of Mediaeval Art 
°° sculpture played a part of the highest 
importance. The works then produced 
are not only excellent in themselves, 
but are so designed as to form a part of 
the building they adorn. How thor- 
oughly unfinished would be the west 
front of the Cathedral at Wells, or the 
portals of Amiens or Reims, without 
their sculpture. 

How rarely can we feel this sense of 
satisfaction, of unity of result, between 
the work of the sculptor and the architect 
in our buildings of to-day. The figures 
are " stood about " like ornaments on 
the mantelpiece. The architect seems 
as unable to prepare for them as the 
sculptor to make them. We seldom see 
congruity even between the figure and 
the pedestal on which it stands. 

The want of this extended sympathy 
leads to another ill result. Wood, stone, 
84 



Carving. 



and metal, different as they are, are Stone and 
treated by the artist in much the same ^Wood 
fashion. The original model in clay 
seems to stand behind everything. The 
" artist " makes the clay model ; his 
subordinates work it out in one or 
another material. The result can only 
be unsatisfactory because the natural 
limitations fixed by the qualities of the 
different materials have been neglected, 
whereas they should stand forth pro- 
minently in the mind of the artist from 
the moment he first conceives his design. 
Marble, stones — some hard, some soft, 
— terra cotta,metals, or wood, each demand 
a difference of treatment. For example, 
the fibrous nature of wood enables the 
craftsman to produce work which would 
fall to pieces at the first blow if executed 
in stone. The polished and varied sur- 
face of marble demands a treatment of 
surface and section of mouldings which 

85 



Stone and in stone would seem tame and poor. 

Wood Again, it must not be forgotten that 
Carving. . ° . 

most works in stone or marble are built 

up. They are composed of many blocks 
standing one on the other. With wood 
it is quite different. Used in thick 
pieces it splits ; good wood-work is 
therefore framed together, the framing 
and intermediate panelling lending itself 
to the richest decoration ; but anything 
in the design which suggests stone con- 
struction is obviously wrong. In short, 
wood must be treated as a material 
that is fibrous and tenacious, and in 
planks or slabs ; stone or marble as 
of close, even texture, brittle and in 
blocks. 

Consequent on these differences of 
texture, we find that the tools and method 
of handling them used by the wood- 
carver differ in many respects from those 

used by the worker in stone or marble. 
86 



One material is scooped and cut out, the Stone and 

other is attacked by a constant repetition ^^^^ 

Carving, 
of blows. 

In the history of Mediaeval Art we 
find that the craft of the stone-carver 
was perfectly understood long before 
that of his brother craftsman in wood. 
Whilst the first had all through Europe 
attained great perfection in the thirteenth 
century, the second did not reach the 
same standard till the fifteenth, and with 
the classic revival it died out. Nothing 
displays more fully the adaptation of . 
design and decoration to the material 
than much of the fifteenth-century stall- 
work in our English cathedrals. These 
could only be executed in wood ; the 
design is suited to that material only ; 
but when the Italian influence creeps in, 
the designs adopted are in fact suited to 
fine stone, marble, or alabaster, and not 

to wood. 

87 



Stone and Until the craftsman in stone and wood 
Wood -g j^Qi-g of an architect, and the architect 
more of a craftsman, we cannot hope 
for improvement. 

SoMERs Clarke. 



SS 



FURNITURE 

* I ''HE institution of schools of art and 
design, and the efforts of serials 
and magazines devoted to artistic matters, 
have had their proper effect in the 
creation of a pretty general distaste for 
the clumsy and inartistic forms which 
characterised cabinets and furniture 
generally some years back. Unfortu- 
nately for the movement, some manu- 
facturers saw their opportunity in the 
demand thus created for better and more 
artistic shapes to produce bad and ill- 
made copies of good designs, which 

undermined the self-respect of the 

89 



Furniture, unfortunate man (frequently a good and 

sufficient craftsman) whose ill hap it was 

to be obliged to make them, and vexed 

the soul of the equally unfortunate 

purchaser. 

The introduction of machinery for 

moulding, which left only the fitting and 

polishing to be done by the craftsman, 

and which enabled manufacturers to 

produce two or three cabinets in the 

time formerly occupied in the making of 

one, was all against the quality and 

stability of the work. No good work 

was ever done in a hurry : the craftsman 

may be rapid, but his rapidity is the 

result of very deliberate thought, and 

not of hurry. Good furniture, however, 

cannot be made rapidly. All wood, no 

matter how long it is kept, nor how 

dry it may be superficially, will always 

shrink again when cut into. 

It follows that the longer the interval 
90 



between the cutting up of the wood, and Furniture. 

its fitting together, the better for the 

work. In the old times the parts of a 

cabinet lay about in the workman's 

benchway for weeks, and even months, 

and were continually turned over and 

handled by him while he was engaged 

on the mouldings and other details. 

The wood thus became really dry, and 

no further shrinkage could take place 

after it was put together. 

A word here about the designing of 
cabinets. ? 

Modern furniture designers are far too 
much influenced by considerations of 
style, and sacrifice a good deal that is 
valuable in order to conform to certain 
rules which, though sound enough in 
their relation to architecture, do not 
really apply to furniture at all. Much 
more pleasing, and not necessarily less 
artistic work would be produced, were 

91 



Furniture, designers, and handicraftsmen too, en- 
couraged to allow their imagination more 
scope, and to get more of their own 
individuality into their work, instead of 
being the slaves of styles invented by 
people who lived under quite different 
conditions from those now prevailing. 

Mouldings as applied to cabinets are 
nearly always too coarse, and project too 
much. This applies equally to the 
carvings, which should always be quite 
subordinate to the general design and 
mouldings, and (in its application to 
surfaces) should be in low relief. This 
is quite compatible with all necessary 
vigour as well as refinement. The idea 
that boldness — viz. high projection of 
parts in carving — has anything to do 
with vigour is a common one, but is 
quite erroneous. All the power and 
vigour which he is capable of putting 

into anything, the clever carver can put 
92 



into a piece of ornament which shall not Furniture, 
project more than a quarter of an inch 
from the ground in any part. Indeed, I 
have known good carvers who did their 
best work within those limits. 

Knowledge of line, of the manage- 
ment of planes, with dexterity in the 
handling of surfaces, is all he requires. 
Another common mistake is to suppose 
that smoothness of surface has anything 
to do with finish properly so called. If 
only half the time which is commonly 
spent in smoothing and polishing carved r 
surfaces was devoted to the more 
thorough study and development of the 
various parts of the design, and the 
correction of the outlines, the surface 
might very well be left to take care of 
itself, and the work would be the better 
for it. 

There is not space in this paper to 
do more than glance at a few other 

93 



Furniture, methods in ordinary use for cabinet 
decoration. Marquetry, inlays of ivory, 
and various other materials have always 
been extensively used, and sometimes 
with excellent effect. In many old 
examples the surface of the solid wood 
was cut away to the pattern, and various 
other kinds of wood pressed into the 
lines so sunk. The method more gener- 
ally adopted now is to insert the pattern 
into veneer which has been prepared to 
receive it, and mount the whole on a 
solid panel or shape with glue. 

The besetting sin of the modern 
designer or maker of marquetry is a 
tendency to " loud " colour and violent 
contrasts of both colour and grain. It 
is common to see as many as a dozen 
different kinds of wood used in the 
decoration of a modern cabinet — some 
of them stained woods, and the colours 
of no two of them in harmony. 
94 



The best work in this kind depends Furniture, 
for its effect on a rich, though it may be 
low tone of colour. It is seldom that 
more than two or three different kinds 
of wood are used, but each kind is so 
carefully selected for the purpose of 
the design, and is used in so many 
different ways, that, while the all- 
important "tone" is kept throughout, 
the variety of surface is almost infinite. 
For this reason, though it is not necessary 
that the designer should actually cut the 
work himself, it is most essential that he . 
should always be within call of the 
cutter, and should himself select every 
piece of wood which is introduced into 
the design. This kind of work is some- 
times shaded with hot sand ; at other 
times a darker wood is introduced into 
the pattern for the shadows. The latter 
is the better way ; the former is the 
cheaper. 

95 



Furniture. The polishing of cabinet work. I 
have so strong an objection in this con- 
nection to the French polisher and all 
his works and ways, that, notwithstand- 
ing the popular prejudice in favour of 
brilliant surfaces, I would have none of 
him. Formerly the cabinetmaker was 
accustomed to polish his own work, 
sometimes by exposing the finished 
surfaces to the light for a few weeks in 
order to darken them, and then applying 
beeswax with plentiful rubbing. This 
was the earliest and the best method, 
but in later times a polish composed of 
naphtha and shellac was used. The latter 
polish, though open to many of the 
objections which may be urged against 
that now in use, was at least hard and 
lasting, which can hardly be said of its 
modern substitute. 

The action of the more reputable 

cabinetmaking firms has been, of late, 
96 



almost wholly in the direction of better Furniture, 
design and construction ; but a still 
better guarantee of progress in the future 
of the craft is found in the fact that 
the craftsman who takes an artistic and 
intelligent, and not a merely mechanical 
interest in his work, is now often to be 
met. To such men greater individual 
freedom is alone wanting. 

Stephen Webb. 



97 



STAINED GLASS 

TN these days there is a tendency to 

* judge the merits of stained glass 

from the standpoint of the archaeologist. 

It is good or bad in so far as it is directly 

imitative of work of the fourteenth or 

fifteenth century. The art had reached 

to a surprising degree of beauty and 

perfection in the fifteenth century, and 

although under the influence of the 

Renaissance some good work was done, 

it rapidly declined only to lift its head 

once more with the revived study of the 

architecture of the Middle Ages. 

The burning energy of Pugin, which 
98 



nothing could escape, was directed Stained 
towards this end, but the attainment of ^^^ss. 
a mere archaeological correctness was the 
chief aim in view. The crude draughts- 
manship of the ancient craftsman was 
diligently imitated, but the spirit and 
charm of the original was lost, as, in a 
mere imitation, it must be. In the 
revival of the art, whilst there was an 
attempt to imitate the drawing, there 
was no attempt to reproduce the quality 
of the ancient glass. Thus, brilliant, 
transparent, and unbroken tints were 
used, lacking all the richness and splen- 
dour of colour so characteristic of the 
originals. Under these conditions of 
blind imitation the modern worker in 
stained glass produced things probably 
more hideous than the world ever saw 
before. 

Departing altogether from the tradi- 
tions of the mediaeval schools, whether 

99 



Stained ancient or modern, there has arisen 
Glass. another school which has found its chief 
exponents at Munich. The object of 
these people has been, ignoring the con- 
dition under which they must necessarily- 
work, to produce an ordinary picture in 
enamelled colours upon sheets of glass. 
The result has been the production of 
mere transparencies no better than painted 
blinds. 

What then, it may be asked, are the 
limiting conditions, imposed upon him 
by the nature of the materials, within 
which the craftsman must work to 
produce a satisfactory result ^ 

In the first place, a stained glass 
window is not an easel picture. It does 
not stand within a frame, as does the 
easel picture, in isolation from the objects 
surrounding it ; it is not even an object 
to be looked at by itself ; its duty is, not 
only to be beautiful, but to play its part 



100 



in the adornment of the building in Stained 
which it is placed, being subordinated to Glass. 
the effect the interior is intended to 
produce as a whole. It is, in fact, but 
one of many parts that go to produce 
a complete result. A visit to one of 
our mediaeval churches, such as York 
Minster, Gloucester Cathedral, or Mal- 
vern Priory, church buildings, which 
still retain much of their ancient glass, 
and a comparison of the unity of effect 
there experienced with the internecine 
struggle exhibited in most buildings 
furnished by the glass painters of to-day, 
will surely convince the most indifferent 
that there is yet much to be learned. 

Secondly, the great difference be- 
tween coloured glass and painted glass 
must be kept in view. A coloured glass 
window is in the nature of a mosaic. 
Not only are no large pieces of glass 
used, but each piece is separated from 



lOI 



Stained and at the same time joined to its neigh- 
^lass. i^Q^j. ^y. ^ ^j^-j^ grooved strip of lead 

which holds the two. " Coloured glass 
is obtained by a mixture of metallic 
oxides whilst in a state of fusion. This 
colouring pervades the substance of the 
glass and becomes incorporated with it." ^ 
It is termed " pot-metal." An examina- 
tion of such a piece of glass will show it 
to be full of varieties of a given colour, 
uneven in thickness, full of little air- 
bubbles and other accidents which cause 
the rays of light to play in and through 
it with endless variety of effect. It is 
the exact opposite to the clear sheet of 
ordinary window-glass. 

To build up a decorative work (and 
such a form of expression may be found 
very appropriate in this craft) in coloured 



^ Industrial y^rts, "Historical Sketches," p. 195, published 
for the Committee of Council on Education. Chapman 
and Hall. 

102 



glass, the pieces must be carefully selected, Stained 
the gradations of tint in a given piece ^^^"• 
being made use of to gain the result 
aimed at. The leaded " canes " by 
which the whole is held together are 
made use of to aid the effect. Fine lines 
and hatchings are painted as with " silver 
stain," and in this respect only is there 
any approach to enamelling in the making 
of a coloured glass window. The glass 
mosaic as above described is held in its 
place in the window by horizontal iron 
bars, and the position of these is a matter 
of some importance, and is by no means 
overlooked by the artist in considering 
the effect of his finished work. A well- 
designed coloured glass window is, in fact, 
like nothing else in the world but itself. 
It is not only a mosaic ; it is not merely 
a picture. It is the honest outcome of 
the use of glass for making a beautiful 

window which shall transmit light and 

103 



Stained not look like anything but what it is. 

Glass. Yhe effect of the work is obtained by 
the contrast of the rich colours of the 
pot -metal with the pearly tones of the 
clear glass. 

We must now describe a painted 
window, so that the distinction between 
a coloured and a painted window may 
be clearly made out. Quoting from the 
same book as before — " To paint glass 
the artist uses a plate of translucent 
glass, and applies the design and colour- 
ing with vitrifiable colours. These 
colours, true enamels, are the product of 
metallic oxides combined with vitreous 
compounds called fluxes. Through the 
medium of these, assisted by a strong 
heat, the colouring matters are fixed 
upon the plate of glass." In the painted 
window we are invited to forget that 
glass is being used. Shadows are ob- 
tained by loading the surface with 
104 



enamel colours ; the fullest rotundity of Stained 
modelling is aimed at ; the lead and iron ^^^ss. 
so essentially necessary to the construc- 
tion and safety of the window are 
concealed with extraordinary skill and 
ingenuity. The spectator perceives a 
hole in the wall with a very indifferent 
picture in it — overdone in the high 
lights, smoky and unpleasant in the 
shadows, in no sense decorative. We 
need concern ourselves no more with 
painted windows ; they are thoroughly 
false and unworthy of consideration. 

Of coloured or stained windows, as 
they are more commonly called, many 
are made, mostly bad, but there are 
amongst us a few who know how to 
make them well, and these are better 
than any made elsewhere in Europe at 

this time. 

SoMERs Clarke. 



105 



TABLE GLASS 

"PEW materials lend themselves more 
readily to the skill of the craftsman 
than glass. The fluid or viscous condi- 
tion of the "metal" as it comes from 
the " pot," the way in which it is shaped 
by the breath of the craftsman, and by 
his skill in making use of centrifugal 
force, these and many other things too 
numerous to mention are all manifested 
in the triumphs of the Venetian glass- 
blower. At the first glance we see that 
the vessel he has made is of a material 
once liquid. He takes the fullest ad- 
vantage of the conditions under which 
1 06 



he works, and the result is a beautiful Table Glass, 
thing which can be produced in but 
one way. 

For many centuries the old methods 
were followed, but with the power to 
produce the " metal," or glass of extreme 
purity and transparency, came the desire 
to leave the old paths, and produce 
work in imitation of crystal. The 
wheel came into play, and cut and 
engraved glass became general. At first 
there was nothing but a genuine advance 
or variation on the old modes. ' 

The specimens of clear glass made at 
the end of the seventeenth and beginning 
of the eighteenth centuries are well 
designed to suit the capabilities of the 
material. The form given to the liquid 
metal by the craftsman's skill is still 
manifest, its delicate transparency ac- 
centuated here and there by cutting the 

surface into small facets, or engraving 

107 



Table Glass, upon it graceful designs ; but as skill 
increased so taste degraded. The grace- 
ful outlines and natural curves of the 
old workers gave place to distortions of 
line but too common in all decorative 
works of the period. A little later and 
the material was produced in mere lumps, 
cut and tormented into a thousand 
surfaces, suggesting that the work was 
made from the solid, as, in part, it was. 
This miserable stuff reached its climax 
in the early years of the present 
reign. 

Since then a great reaction has taken 
place. For example, the old decanter, 
a massive lump of misshapen material 
better suited to the purpose of braining 
a burglar than decorating a table, has 
given place to a light and gracefully 
formed vessel, covered in many cases 
with well-designed surface engraving, 

and thoroughly suited both to the uses it 
io8 



is intended to fulfil and the material of Table Glass, 
which it is made. And not only so, 
but a distinct variation and development 
upon the old types has been made. 
The works produced have not been 
merely copies, but they have their own 
character. It is not necessary to describe 
the craft of the glass-blower. It is 
sufficient to say that he deals with a 
material which, when it comes to his 
hands, is a liquid, solidifying rapidly 
on exposure to the air; that there is 
hardly a limit to the delicacy of the 
film that can be made ; and, in addi- 
tion to using a material of one colour, 
different colours can be laid one over 
the other, the outer ones being after- 
wards cut through by the wheel, leaving 
a pattern in one colour on a ground of 
another. 

There has developed itself of late an 

unfortunate tendency to stray from the 

109 



Table Glass, path of improvement,^ but a due con- 
sideration on the part both of the 
purchaser and of the craftsman of how 
the material should be used will result, 
it may be hoped, in farther advances on 

the right road. 

SoMERS Clarke. 

1 Novelty rather than improvement is the rock on which 
our craftsmen are but too often wrecked. 



IIO 



^IC^ ioF!^f73 



PRINTING 

PRINTING, in the only sense with 
which we are at present concerned, 
differs from most if not from alJ the arts 
and crafts represented in the Exhibition 
in being comparatively modern. For 
although the Chinese took impressions 
from wood blocks engraved in relief for 
centuries before the wood-cutters of the 
Netherlands, by a similar process, pro- 
duced the block books, which were 
the immediate predecessors of the true 
printed book, the invention of movable 
metal letters in the middle of the 

fifteenth century may justly be considered 

III 



Printing, as the invention of the art of printing. 

And it is worth mention in passing 

that, as an example of fine typography, 

the earhest book printed with movable 

types, the Gutenberg, or " forty-two line 

Bible" of about 1455, has never been 

surpassed. 

Printing, then, for our purpose, may 

be considered as the art of making 

books by means of movable types. 

Now, as all books not primarily intended 

as picture-books consist principally of 

types composed to form letterpress, 

it is of the first importance that the 

letter used should be fine in form ; 

especially as no more time is occupied, 

or cost incurred, in casting, setting, or 

printing beautiful letters than in the 

same operations with ugly ones. And 

it was a matter of course that in the 

Middle Ages, when the craftsmen took 

care that beautiful form should always 
112 



be a part of their productions whatever Printing. 

they were, the forms of printed letters 

should be beautiful, and that their 

arrangement on the page should be 

reasonable and a help to the shapeliness 

of the letters themselves. The Middle 

Ages brought caligraphy to perfection, 

and it was natural therefore that the 

forms of printed letters should follow 

more or less closely those of the written 

character, and they followed them very 

closely. The first books were printed 

in black letter, i.e. the letter which was 

a Gothic development of the ancient 

Roman character, and which developed 

more completely and satisfactorily on the 

side of the *' lower-case " than the capital 

letters ; the " lower-case " being in fact 

invented in the early Middle Ages. 

The earliest book printed with movable 

type, the aforesaid Gutenberg Bible, is 

printed in letters which are an exact 
I 113 



Printing, imitation of the more formal ecclesiastical 

writing which obtained at that time ; 

this has since been called " missal type," 

and was in fact the kind of letter used in 

the many splendid missals, psalters, etc., 

produced by printing in the fifteenth 

century. But the first Bible actually dated 

(which also was printed at Maintz by 

Peter Schceffer in the year 1462) imitates 

a much freer hand, simpler, rounder, and 

less spiky ^ and therefore* far pleasanter 

and easier to read. On the whole the 

type of this book may be considered the 

ne-plus-ultra of Gothic type, especially 

as regards the lower-case letters; and 

type very similar was used during the 

next fifteen or twenty years not only by 

Schceffer, but by printers in Strasburg, 

Basle, Paris, Lubeck, and other cities. 

But though on the whole, except in 

Italy, Gothic letter was most ofi:en used, 

a very few years saw the birth of Roman 
114 



character not only in Italy, but in Printing. 
Germany and France. In 1465 Sweyn- 
heim and Pannartz began printing in 
the monastery of Subiaco near Rome, 
and used an exceedingly beautiful type, 
which is indeed to look at a transition 
between Gothic and Roman, but which 
must certainly have come from the 
study of the twelfth or even the eleventh 
century MSS. They printed very few 
books in this type, three only ; but in 
their very first books in Rome, beginning 
with the year 1468, they discarded this 
for a more completely Roman and far 
less beautiful letter. But about the 
same year Mentelin at Strasburg began 
to print in a type which is distinctly 
Roman ; and the next year Gunther 
Zeiner at Augsburg followed suit ; 
while in 1470 at Paris Udalric Gering 
and his associates turned out the first 
books printed in France, also in Roman 

115 



Printing, character. The Roman type of all these 
printers is similar in character, and is 
very simple and legible, and unaffectedly 
designed for use ; but it is by no means 
without beauty. It must be said that 
it is in no way like the transition type 
of Subiaco, and though more Roman 
than that, yet scarcely more like the 
complete Roman type of the earliest 
printers of Rome. 

A further development of the Roman 
letter took place at Venice. John of 
Spires and his brother Vindelin, followed 
by Nicholas Jenson, began to print in 
that city, 1469, 1470 ; their type is on 
the lines of the German and French 
rather than of the Roman printers. Of 
Jenson it must be said that he carried 
the development of Roman type as far 
as it can go : his letter is admirably 
clear and regular, but at least as beauti- 
ful as any other Roman type. After his 
116 



death in the " fourteen eighties," or at Printing, 
least by 1490, printing in Venice had 
declined very much ; and though the 
famous family of Aldus restored its 
technical excellence, rejecting battered 
letters, and paying great attention to 
the "press work" or actual process of 
printing, yet their type is artistically on 
a much lower level than Jenson's, and in 
fact they must be considered to have 
ended the age of fine printing in Italy. 

Jenson, however, had many contem- 
poraries who used beautiful type, some 
of which — as, e.g., that of Jacobus 
Rubeus or Jacques le Rouge — is 
scarcely distinguishable from his. It 
was these great Venetian printers, to- 
gether with their brethren of Rome, 
Milan, Parma, and one or two other 
cities, who produced the splendid editions 
of the Classics, which are one of the 

great glories of the printer's art, and are 

117 



Printing, worthy representatives of the eager 
enthusiasm for the revived learning of 
that epoch. By far the greater part of 
these Italian printers, it should be 
mentioned, were Germans or Frenchmen, 
working under the influence of Italian 
opinion and aims. 

It must be understood that through 
the whole of the fifteenth and the first 
quarter of the sixteenth centuries the 
Roman letter was used side by side with 
the Gothic. Even in Italy most of the 
theological and law books were printed 
in Gothic letter, which was generally 
more formally Gothic than the print- 
ing of the German workmen, many of 
whose types, indeed, like that of the 
Subiaco works, are of a transitional char- 
acter. This was notably the case with 
the early works printed at Ulm, and in 
a somewhat lesser degree at Augsburg. 

In fact Gunther Zeiner's first type 
ii8 



(afterwards used by Schussler) is remark- Printing, 
ably like the type of the before-men- 
tioned Subiaco books. 

In the Low Countries and Cologne, 
which were very fertile of printed books, 
Gothic was the favourite. The charac- 
teristic Dutch type, as represented by the 
excellent printer Gerard Leew, is very 
pronounced and uncompromising Gothic. 
This type was introduced into England 
by Wynkyn de Worde, Caxton's suc- 
cessor, and was used there with very 
little variation all through the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries, and indeed 
into the eighteenth. Most of Caxton's 
own types are of an earlier character, 
though they also much resemble Flemish 
or Cologne letter. After the end of 
the fifteenth century the degradation of 
printing, especially in Germany and 
Italy, went on apace ; and by the end 

of the sixteenth century there was no 

119 



Printing, really beautiful printing done : the best, 
mostly French or Low-Country, was neat 
and clear, but without any distinction ; 
the worst, which perhaps was the 
English, was a terrible falling-ofF from 
the work of the earlier presses ; and 
things got worse and worse through 
the whole of the seventeenth century, 
so that in the eighteenth printing was 
very miserably performed. In England 
about this time, an attempt was made 
(notably by Caslon, who started business 
in London as a type-founder in 1720) 
to improve the letter in form. Caslon^s 
type is clear and neat, and fairly well 
designed ; he seems to have taken the 
letter of the Elzevirs of the seventeenth 
century for his model : type cast from 
his matrices is still in everyday use. 

In spite, however, of his praiseworthy 
efforts, printing had still one last de- 
gradation to undergo. The seventeenth 



century founts were bad rather negatively Printing, 
than positively. But for the beauty of 
the earlier work they might have seemed 
tolerable. It was reserved for the 
founders of the later eighteenth century 
to produce letters which are positively 
ugly, and which, it may be added, are 
dazzling and unpleasant to the eye 
owing to the clumsy thickening and 
vulgar thinning of the lines : for 
the seventeenth -century letters are at 
least pure and simple in line. The 
Italian, Bodoni, and the Frenchman, 
Didot, were the leaders in this luckless 
change, though our own Baskerville, 
who was at work some years before 
them, went much on the same lines; 
but his letters, though uninteresting and 
poor, are not nearly so gross and vulgar 
as those of either the Italian or the 
Frenchman. 

With this change the art of printing 



121 



Printing, touched bottom, so far as fine printing 

is concerned, though paper did not get 

to its worst till about 1840. The 

Chiswick press in 1844 revived Caslon's 

founts, printing for Messrs. Longman 

the Diary of Lady Willoughby. This 

experiment was so far successful that 

about 1850 Messrs. Miller and Richard 

of Edinburgh were induced to cut 

punches for a series of " old style " 

letters. These and similar founts, cast 

by the above firm and others, have now 

come into general use and are obviously 

a great improvement on the ordinary 

** modern style " in use in England, 

which is in fact the Bodoni type a little 

reduced in ugliness. The design of the 

letters of this modern " old style " 

leaves a good deal to be desired, and 

the whole effect is a little too gray, 

owing to the thinness of the letters. 

It must be remembered, however, that 
122 



most modern printing is done by Printing. 

machinery on soft paper, and not by 

the hand press, and these somewhat 

wiry letters are suitable for the machine 

process, which would not do justice to 

letters of more generous design. 

It is discouraging to note that the 

improvement of the last fifty years is 

almost wholly confined to Great Britain. 

Here and there a book is printed in 

France or Germany with some pretension 

to good taste, but the general revival of 

the old forms has made no way in those 

countries. Italy is contentedly stagnant. 

America has produced a good many 

showy books, the typography, paper, 

and illustrations of which are, however, 

all wrong, oddity rather than rational 

beauty and meaning being apparently 

the thing sought for both in the letters 

and the illustrations. 

To say a few words on the principles 

123 



Printing, of design in typography : it is obvious 
that legibility is the first thing to be 
aimed at in the forms of the letters ; this 
is best furthered by the avoidance of 
irrational swellings and spiky projections, 
and by the using of careful purity of 
line. Even the Caslon type when en- 
larged shows great shortcomings in this 
respect : the ends of many of the letters 
such as the t and e are hooked up in a 
vulgar and meaningless way, instead of 
ending in the sharp and clear stroke of 
Jenson's letters ; there is a grossness in 
the upper finishings of letters like the c, 
the a, and so on, an ugly pear-shaped 
swelling defacing the form of the letter : 
in short, it happens to this craft, as to 
others, that the utilitarian practice, 
though it professes to avoid ornament, 
still clings to a foolish, because mis- 
understood conventionality, deduced 

from what was once ornament, and is 
124 



by no means useful ; which title can only Printing, 
be claimed by artistic practice, whether 
the art in it be conscious or unconscious. 

In no characters is the contrast 
between the ugly and vulgar illegibility 
of the modern type and the elegance 
and legibility of the ancient more 
striking than in the Arabic numerals. 
In the old print each figure has its 
definite individuality, and one cannot 
be mistaken for the other ; in reading 
the modern figures the eyes must be 
strained before the reader can have any 
reasonable assurance that he has a 5, an 
8, or a 3 before him, unless the press 
work is of the best : this is awkward if 
you have to read Bradshaw's Guide in a 
hurry. 

One of the differences between the 
fine type and the utilitarian must prob- 
ably be put down to a misapprehension 
of a commercial necessity : this is the 

125 



Printing, narrowing of the modern letters. Most 
of Jenson's letters -are designed within a 
square, the modern letters are narrowed 
by a third or thereabout ; but while this 
gain of space very much hampers the 
possibility of beauty of design, it is not 
a real gain, for the modern printer 
throws the gain away by putting in- 
ordinately wide spaces between his lines, 
which, probably, the lateral compression 
of his letters renders necessary. Com- 
mercialism again compels the use of 
type too small in size to be comfortable 
reading : the size known as '' Long 
primer" ought to be the smallest size 
used in a book meant to be read. 
Here, again, if the practice of '' leading " 
were retrenched larger type could be used 
without enhancing the price of a book. 

One very important matter in "set- 
ting up " for fine printing is the 

"spacing," that is, the lateral distance 
126 



of words from one another. In good Printing, 
printing the spaces between the words 
should be as near as possible equal (it 
is impossible that they should be quite 
equal except in lines of poetry) ; modern 
printers understand this, but it is only 
practised in the very best establish- 
ments. But another point which they 
should attend to they almost always 
disregard ; this is the tendency to the 
formation of ugly meandering white 
lines or " rivers " in the page, a blemish 
which can be nearly, though not wholly, 
avoided by care and forethought, the 
desirable thing being "the breaking 
of the line" as in bonding masonry 

or brickwork, thus : ■ — — The 

general solidity of a page is much to be 
sought for : modern printers generally 
overdo the "whites" in the spacing, 
a defect probably forced on them by 

the characterless quality of the letters. 

127 



Printing. For where these are boldly and care- 
fully designed, and each letter is 
thoroughly individual in form, the 
words may be set much closer to- 
gether, without loss of clearness. No 
definite rules, however, except the 
avoidance " of "rivers" and excess of 
white, can be given for the spacing, 
which requires the constant exercise of 
judgment and taste on the part of the 
printer. 

The position of the page on the 
paper should be considered if the book 
is to have a satisfactory look. Here 
once more the almost invariable modern 
practice is in opposition to a natural 
sense of proportion. From the time 
when books first took their present 
shape till the end of the sixteenth 
century, or indeed later, the page so 
lay on the paper that there was more 

space allowed to the bottom and fore 
128 



margin than to the top and back of Printing, 
the paper, thus : 




the unit of the book being looked on 
as the two pages forming an opening. 
The modern printer, in the teeth of the 
evidence given by his own eyes, con- 
siders the single page as the unit, and 
prints the page in the middle of his 
paper — only nominally so, however, in 
many cases, since when he uses a 
headline he counts that in, the result 
as measured by the eye being that the 
lower margin is less than the top one, 
and that the whole opening has an 
upside-down look vertically, and that 
laterally the page looks as if it were 

being driven off the paper. 

K 129 



Printing. The paper on which the printing is 
to be done is a necessary part of our 
subject : of this it may be said that 
though there is some good paper made 
now, it is never used except for very 
expensive books, although it would 
not materially increase the cost in all 
but the very cheapest. The paper 
that is used for ordinary books is 
exceedingly bad even in this country, 
but is beaten in the race for vileness 
by that made in America, which is the 
worst conceivable. There seems to be 
no reason why ordinary paper should 
not be better made, even allowing the 
necessity for a very low price ; but any 
improvement must be based on showing 
openly that the cheap article is cheap, 
e.g. the cheap paper should not sacrifice 
toughness and durability to a smooth 
and white surface, which should be in- 
dications of a delicacy of material and 
130 



manufacture which would of necessity Printing, 
increase its cost. One fruitful source of 
badness in paper is the habit that pub- 
lishers have of eking out a thin volume 
by printing it on thick paper almost 
of the substance of cardboard, a device 
which deceives nobody, and makes a 
book very unpleasant to read. On the 
whole, a small book should be printed 
on paper which is as thin as may be 
without being transparent. The paper 
used for printing the small highly orna- 
mented French service-books about the 
beginning of the sixteenth century is a 
model in this respect, being thin, tough, 
and opaque. However, the fact must 
not be blinked that machine-made paper 
cannot in the nature of things be made 
of so good a texture as that made by 
hand. 

The ornamentation of printed books 
is too wide a subject to be dealt with 

131 



Printing, fully here ; but one thing must be said 
on it. The essential point to be re- 
membered is that the ornament, what- 
' ever it is, whether picture or pattern- 
work, should form part of the page^ 
should be a part of the whole scheme of 
the book. Simple as this proposition is, 
it is necessary to be stated, because the 
modern practice is to disregard the 
relation between the printing and the 
ornament altogether, so that if the two 
are helpful to one another it is a mere 
matter of accident. The due relation 
of letter to pictures and other orna- 
ment was thoroughly understood by the 
old printers ; so that even when the 
woodcuts are very rude indeed, the 
proportions of the page still give 
pleasure by the sense of richness that 
the cuts and letter together convey. 
When, as is most often the case, there is 

actual beauty in the cuts, the books so 
132 



ornamented are amongst the most Printing, 
delightful works of art that have ever 
been produced. Therefore, granted well- 
designed type, due spacing of the lines 
and words, and proper position of the 
page on the paper, all books might be 
at least comely and well-looking : and if 
to these good qualities were added really 
beautiful ornament and pictures, printed 
books might once again illustrate to the 
full the position of our Society that a 
work of utility might be also a work of 
art, if we cared to make it so. 

William Morris. 
Emery Walker. 



133 



BOOKBINDING 

IVAODERN bookbinding dates from 
the application of printing to 
literature, and in essentials has remained 
unchanged to the present day, though 
in those outward characteristics, which 
appeal to the touch and to the eye, and 
constitute binding in an artistic sense, 
it has gone through many changes for 
better and for worse, which, in the 
opinion of the writer, have resulted, in 
the main, in the exaggeration of technical 
skill and in the death of artistic fancy. 

The first operation of the modern 
134 



binder is to fold or refold the printed Book- 
sheet into a section, and to gather the ^^^^^^S- 
sections, numbered or lettered at the 
foot, in their proper order into a 
volume. 

The sections are then taken, one by 
one, placed face downwards in a frame, 
and sewn through the back by a con- 
tinuous thread running backwards and 
forwards along the backs of the sections 
to upright strings fastened at regular 
intervals in the sewing frame. This 
process unites the sections to one another 
in series one after the other, and permits 
the perusal of the book by the simple 
turning of leaf after leaf upon the hinge 
formed by the thread and the back of 
the section. 

A volume, or series of sections, so 
treated, the ends of the string being 
properly secured, is essentially " bound " ; 
all that is subsequently done is done for 

135 



Book- the protection or for the decoration of 

inding. ^j^g volume or of its cover. 

The sides of a volume are protected 
by millboards, called shortly " boards." 
The boards themselves and the back 
are protected by a cover of leather, 
vellum, silk, linen, or paper, wholly or 
in part. The edges of the volume are 
protected by the projection of the boards 
beyond them at top, bottom, and fore- 
edge, and usually by being cut smooth 
and gilt. 

A volume so bound and protected 
may be decorated by tooling or other- 
wise upon all the exposed surfaces (upon 
the edges, the sides, and the back) 
and may be designated by lettering 
upon the back or the sides. 

The degree in which a bound book 
is protected and decorated will deter- 
mine the class to which the binding will 

belong. 
136 



(i) In cloth bindings the cover, called Book- 
a " case," is made apart from the book, bmdmg. 
and is attached as a whole after the 
book is sewn. 

(2) In half bindings the cover is built 
up for and on each individual book, but 
the boards of which it is composed are 
only partly covered with the leather or 
other material which covers the back. 

(3) In whole bindings the boards are 
wholly covered with leather or other 
durable material, which in half binding 
covers only a portion of them. • 

(4) In extra bindings whole binding is 
advanced a stage higher by decoration. 
Of course in the various stages the 
details vary commensurately with the 
stage itself, being more or less elaborate 
as the stage is higher or lower in the 
scale. 

The process of extra binding set out 
in more detail is as follows : — 

137 



Book- (i) First the sections are folded or 

binding, refolded. 

(2) Then "end-papers" — sections of 
plain paper added at the beginning and 
end of the volume to protect the first 
and last, the most exposed, sections of 
printed matter constituting the volume 
proper — having been prepared and added, 
the sections are beaten, or rolled, or 
pressed, to make them " solid." 

The end-papers are usually added at 
a later stage, and are pasted on, and not 
sewn, but, in the opinion of the writer, it 
is better to add them at this stage, and 
to sew them and not to paste them. 

(3) Then the sections are sewn as 
already described. 

(4) When sewn the volume passes 
into the hands of the " forwarder," who 

(5) "Makes" the back, beating it 
round, if the back is to be round, and 
" backing " it, or making it fan out from 

138 



the centre to right and left and project Book- 
at the edges, to form a kind of ridge to binding, 
receive and to protect the edges of the 
boards which form the sides of the cover. 

(6) The back having been made, the 
"boards" (made of millboard, and 
originally of wood) for the protection of 
the sides are made and cut to shape, and 
attached by lacing into them the ends of 
the strings upon which the book has 
been sewn. 

(7) The boards having been attached, 
the edges of the book are now cut smooth 
and even at the top, bottom, and fore- 
edge, the edges of the boards being used 
as guides for the purpose. In some cases 
the order is reversed, and the edges are 
first cut and then the boards. 

(8) The edges may now be coloured 
and gilt, and if it is proposed to 
" gauffer " or to decorate them with 
tooling, they are so treated at this stage. 

139 



Book- (9) The head-band is next worked 

binding. Qj^ ^^ j^g^^ ^j^j ^^^1^ ^^^ ^j^g ^^^^ I'j^g^ 

with paper or leather or other material 
to keep the head-band in its place and 
to strengthen the back itself. 

The book is now ready to be covered. 

(10) If the book is covered with 
leather, the leather is carefully pared all 
round the edges and along the line of 
the back, to make the edges sharp and 
the joints free. 

(11) The book having been covered, 
the depression on the inside of the 
boards caused by the overlap of the 
leather is filled in with paper, so that 
the entire inner surface may be smooth 
and even, and ready to receive the first 
and last leaves of the end-papers, which 
finally are cut to shape and pasted down, 
leaving the borders only uncovered. 

Sometimes, however, the first and last 

leaves of the " end-papers " are of silk, 
140 



and the "joint" of leather, in which Book- 
case, of course, the end-papers are not "^^^^^^S- 
pasted down, but the insides of the 
boards are independently treated, and are 
covered, sometimes with leather, some- 
times with silk or other material. 

The book is now "forwarded," and 
passes into the hands of the " finisher " 
to be tooled or decorated, or " finished " 
as it is called. 

The decoration in gold on the surface 
of leather is wrought out, bit by bit, by 
means of small brass stamps called ■ 

" tools." 

The steps of the process are shortly 
as follows : — 

(12) The pattern having been settled 
and worked out on paper, it is " trans- 
ferred" to, or marked out on, the 
various surfaces to which it is to be 
applied. 

Each surface is then prepared in 

141 



Book- succession, and, if large, bit by bit, to 
binding, receive the gold. 

(13) First the leather is washed with 
water or with vinegar. 

(14) Then the pattern is pencilled 
over with " glaire " (white of egg beaten 
up and drained off), or the surface is 
wholly washed with it. 

(15) Next it is smeared lightly with 
grease or oil. 

(16) And, finally, the gold (gold 
leaf) is applied by a pad of cotton wool, 
or a flat thin brush called a " tip." 

(17) The pattern, visible through the 
gold, is now reimpressed or worked with 
the tools heated to about the temperature 
of boiling water, and the unimpressed or 
waste gold is removed by an oiled rag, 
leaving the pattern in gold and the rest 
of the leather clear. 

These several operations are, in 
142 



England, usually distributed among five Book- 
classes of persons. binding. 

(i) The superintendent or person 
responsible for the whole work. 

(2) The sewer ^ usually a woman, who 
folds, sews, and makes the head-bands. 

(3) The hook-edge gilder^ who gilds 
the edges. Usually a craft apart. 

(4) Th& forwarder^ who performs all 
the other operations leading up to the 
finishing. 

(5) ThQ finisher, who decorates and 
letters the volume after it is forwarded. • 

In Paris the work is still further dis- 
tributed, a special workman (couvreur) 
being employed to prepare the leather 
for covering and to cover. 

In the opinion of the writer, the work, 
as a craft of beauty, suffers, as do the 
workmen, from the allocation of different 
operations to different workmen. The 
work should be conceived of as one, and 

143 



/ 



Book- be wholly executed by one person, or at 

binding, niost by two, and especially should there 

be no distinction between " finisher " and 

" forwarder," between " executant " and 

" artist." 

The following technical names may 
serve to call attention to the principal 
features of a bound book. 

(i) The back^ the posterior edge of 
the volume upon which at the present 
time the title is usually placed. For- 
merly it was placed on the fore-edge 
or side. 

The back may be {a) convex or con- 
cave or flat ; (^) marked horizontally 
with bands, or smooth from head to 
tail ; {c) tight, the leather or other 
covering adhering to the back itself, or 
hollow, the leather or other covering not 
so adhering ; and {d) stiff or flexible. 

(2) Edges, the three other edges of 
144 



the book, — the top, the bottom, and the Book- 
fore-edge. ^^^^^^S- 

(3) Bands ^ the cords upon which the 
book is sewn, and which, if not " let in " 
or embedded in the back, appear on it as 
parallel ridges. The ridges are, how- 
ever, usually artificial, the real bands 
being " let in " to facilitate the sewing, 
and their places supplied by thin slips of 
leather cut to resemble them and glued 
on the back. This process also enables 
the forwarder to give great sharpness 

and finish to this part of his work, if he ^ 

think it worth while. 

(4) Between-bands^ the space between 
the bands. 

(5) Head and tail^ the top and 
bottom of the back. 

(6) The head-hand and he ad-cap y the 
fillet of silk worked in buttonhole stitch 
at the head and tail, and the cap or 
cover of leather over it. The head- 

L 145 



Book- band had its origin probably in the desire 
binding. ^^ strengthen the back and to resist the 
strain when a book is pulled by head or 
tail from the shelf. 

(7) Boards^ the sides of the cover, 
stiff or limp, thick or thin, in all 
degrees. 

(8) Squares^ the projection of the 
boards beyond the edges of the book. 
These may be shallow or deep in all 
degrees, limited only by the purpose 
they have to fulfil and the danger they 
will themselves be exposed to if too 
deep. 

(9) Borders^ the overlaps of leather 
on the insides of the boards. 

(10) Proof, the rough edges of leaves 
left uncut in cutting the edges to show 
where the original margin was, and to 
prove that the cutting has not been too 
severe. ' 



146 



The life of bookbinding is in the Book- 
dainty mutation of its mutable elements — binding, 
back, bands, boards, squares, decoration. 
These elements admit of almost endless 
variation, singly and in combination, in 
kind and in degree. In fact, however, 
they are now almost always uniformly 
treated or worked up to one type or set 
of types. This is the death of book- 
binding as a craft of beauty. 

The finish, moreover, or execution, 
has outrun invention, and is the great 
characteristic of modern bookbinding. 
This again, the inversion of the due 
order, is, in the opinion of the writer, 
but as the carving on the tomb of a dead 
art, and itself dead. 

A well - bound beautiful book is 
neither of one type, nor finished so that 
its highest praise is that *'had it been 
made by a machine it could not have 
been made better." It is individual ; it 

H7 



Book- is instinct with the hand of him who 
binding, j^ade it ; it is pleasant to feel, to handle, 
and to see ; it is the original work of an 
original mind working in freedom simul- 
taneously with hand and heart and brain 
to produce a thing of use, which all time 
shall agree ever more and more also to 
call " a thing of beauty." 

T. J. Cobden-Sanderson. 



148 



OF MURAL PAINTING 

TpHERE seems no precise reason why 
the subject of this note should 
differ much from that of Mr. Crane's 
article on ** Decorative Painting" (pp. 
39-51). "Mural Painting" need not, 
as such, consist of any one sort of paint- 
ing more than another. " Decorative 
Painting " does seem, on the other hand, 
to indicate a certain desire or under- 
taking to render the object painted more 
pleasant to the beholder's eye. 

From long habit, however, chiefly 
induced by the constant practice of 

the Italians of modern times, " Mural 

149 



Of Mural Painting " has come to be looked upon 
Painting, ^s figure painting (in fact, the human 
figure exclusively) on walls — and no 
other sort of objects can sufficiently im- 
part that dignity to a building which it 
seems to crave for. I can think of no 
valid reason why a set of rooms, or walls, 
should not be decorated with animals 
in lieu of "humans," as the late Mr. 
Trelawney used to call us : one wall to 
be devoted to monkeys, a second to be 
filled in with tigers, a third to be given 
up to horses, etc. etc. I know men in 
England, and, I believe, some artists, 
who would be delighted with the substi- 
tution. But I hope the general sense of 
the public would be set against such 
subjects, and the lowering effects of them 
on every one, and the kind of humili- 
ation we should feel at knowing them to 
exist. 

I have been informed that in Berlin 
150 



the walls of the rooms where the antique Of Mural 
statues are kept have been painted with ^^^^^^^S- 
mixed subjects representing antique 
buildings with antique Greek views and 
landscapes, to back up, as it were, the 
statues. I must own it, that without 
having seen the decoration in question, 
I feel filled with extreme aversion for 
the plan. The more so when one con- 
siders the extreme unlikelihood of the 
same being made tolerable in colour at 
Berlin. I have also been told that some 
painters in the North of England, bitten 
with a desire to decorate buildings, have 
painted one set of rooms with landscapes. 
This, without the least knowledge of 
the works in question, as landscapes, I 
must allow I regret. There is, it seems 
to me, an unbridgeable chasm, not to 
be passed, between landscape art and the 
decoration of walls ; for the very essence 
of the landscape art is distance, whereas 

151 



Of Mural the very essence of the wall-picture is its 
I'amting. solidity, or, at least, its not appearing to 
be a hole in the wall. On the matter of 
subjects fit for painting on walls I may 
have a few words to say farther on in 
this paper, but first I had better set 
doAvn what little I have to advise with 
regard to the material and mode of 
executing. 

The old-fashioned Italian or " Buon 
Fresco " I look upon as practically given 
up in this country, and every other 
European country that has not a climate 
to equal Italy. If the climate of Paris 
will not admit of this process, how much 
less is our damp, foggy, changeable 
atmosphere likely to put up with it for 
many years ! It is true that the frescoes 
of William Dyce have lasted for some 
thirty years without apparent damage ; 
but also it is the case that the Queen's 
Robing Rooms in the House of Lords 
152 



have been specially guarded against Of Mural 
atmospheric changes of temperature. ^in^^^g- 
Next to real fresco, there has been in 
repute for a time the waterglass process, 
in which Daniel Maclise's great paintings 
have been executed. I see no precise 
reason why these noble works should 
not last, and defy climate for many, 
many long years yet ; though from want 
of experience he very much endangered 
this durability through the too lavish 
application of the medium. But in 
Germany, the country of waterglass, the 
process is already in bad repute. The 
third alternative, "spirit fresco," or 
what we in England claim as the 
Gambier-Parry process, has, I under- 
stand, superseded it. I have myself 
painted in this system seven works on the 
walls of the Manchester Town Hall, and 
have had no reason to complain of their 
behaviour. Since beginning the series, 

153 



Of Mural however, a fresh change has come over 
Painting. ^^^ fortunes of mural art in the fact 
that, in France (what most strongly 
recommends itself to common sense), the 
mural painters have now taken to painting 
on canvas, which is afterwards cemented, 
or what the French call " maronflee," on 
to the wall. White-lead and oil, with a 
very small admixture of rosin melted in 
oil, are the ingredients used. It is laid 
on cold and plentifully on the wall and 
on the back of the picture, and the 
painting pressed down with a cloth or 
handkerchief : nothing further being 
required, saving to guard the edges of 
the canvas from curling up before the 
white-lead has had time to harden. 
The advantage of this process of cement- 
ing lies in the fact that with each suc- 
ceeding year it must become harder and 
more like stone in its consistency. The 
canvases may be prepared as if for oil 
154 



painting, and painted with common oil- Of Mural 
colours flatted (or matted) afterwards by Pointing, 
gum-elemi and spike-oil. Or the canvas 
may be prepared with the Gambier- 
Parry colour and painted in that very 
mat medium. The canvases should if 
possible be fine in texture, as better 
adapted for adhering to the wall. The 
advantage of this process is thut, should 
at any time, through neglect, damp 
invade the wall, and the canvas show a 
tendency to get loose, it would be easy 
to replace it ; or the canvas might be 
altogether detached from the wall and 
strained as a picture. 

I must now return to the choice of 
subject, a matter of much importance, 
but on which it is difficult to give advice. 
One thing, however, may be urged as 
a rule, and that is, that very dark or 
Rembrandtesque subjects are particularly 
unsuited for mural paintings. I cannot 

155 



Of Mural go into the reasons for this, but a slight 
Painting, experiment ought to satisfy the painter, 
having once heard the principle enun- 
ciated : that is, if he belong to the class 
likely to succeed at such work. 

Another sine qua non as to subject is 
that the painter himself must be allowed 
to select it. It is true that certain limit- 
ations may be accorded — for instance, 
the artist may be required to select a 
subject with certain tendencies in it — but 
the actual invention of the subject and 
working out of it must be his. In fact, 
the painter himself is the only judge of 
what he is likely to carry out well and of 
the subjects that are paintable. Then 
much depends on whom the works are 
for ; if for the general public, and 
carried out with their money, care (it 
seems to me but fair) should be taken 
that the subjects are such as they can 
understand and take interest in. If, on 
156 



the contrary, you are painting for highly- Of Mural 
cultured people with a turn for Greek Pointing, 
myths, it is quite another thing ; then, 
such a subject as ** Eros reproaching his 
brother Anteros for his coldness " might 
be one offering opportunities for shades 
of sentiment suited to the givers of the 
commissions concerned. But for such 
as have not been trained to entertain 
these refinements, downright facts, either 
in history or in sociology, are calculated 
most to excite the imagination. It is 
not always necessary for the spectator to 
be exact in his conclusions. I remember 
once at Manchester, the members of a 
Young Men's Christian Association had 
come to a meeting in the great hall. 
Some of them were there too soon, and 
so were looking round the room. One 
observed : " What's this about .? " His 
friend answered : ** Fallen off a ladder, 
the police are running him in ! " Well, 

157 



Of Mural this was not quite correct. A wounded 
amting. yQ^j^g Danish chieftain was being hurried 
out of Manchester on his comrade's 
shoulders, with a view to save 'his Hfe. 
The Phrygian helmets of the Danes 
indicated neither firemen nor policemen ; 
but the idea was one of misfortune, and 
care bestowed on it — and did as well, 
and showed sympathy in a somewhat 
uncultivated, though well-intentioned, 
class of Lancastrians. On the other 
hand, I have noticed that subjects 
that interest infallibly all classes, 
educated or illiterate, are religious sub- 
jects. It is not a question of piety — 
but comes from the simple breadth of 
poetry and humanity usually involved in 
this class of subject. That the amount 
of religiosity in either spectator or pro- 
ducer has nothing to do with the feeling 
is clear if we consider. 

The Spaniards are one of the most 
158 



religious peoples ever known, and yet Of Mural 
their art is singularly deficient in this P^^^^i^g- 
quality. Were there ever two great 
painters as wanting in the sacred feeling 
as Velasquez and Murillo ? and yet, in 
all probability, they were more religious 
than ourselves. 

It only remains for me to point to the 
fact that mural painting, when it has 
been practised jointly by those who were 
at the same time easel -painters, has 
invariably raised those painters to far 
higher flights and instances of style than 
they seem capable of in the smaller path. 
Take the examples left: us, say by Raphael 
and Michel Angelo, or some of the 
earlier masters, such as the " Fulminati " 
of Signorelli, compared with his speci- 
mens in our National Gallery ; or the 
works left on walls by even less favoured 
artists, such as Domenichino and Andrea 
del Sarto, or the French de la Roche's 

159 



Of Mural " Hemicycle," or our own great painters 
Fainting, j^y^e and Maclise's frescoes ; the same 
rise in style, the same improvement, is 
everywhere to be noticed, both in draw- 
ing, in colour, and in flesh-painting. 

F. Madox Brown. 



i6o 



OF SGRAFFITO WORK 

T^HE Italian words Graffiato,Sgraffiato, 
or Sgraffito, mean *' Scratched," 
and scratched work is the oldest form of 
graphic expression and surface decoration 
used by man. 

The term Sgraffito is, however, 
specially used to denote decoration 
scratched or incised upon plaster or 
potters clay while still soft, and for 
beauty of effect depends either solely 
upon lines thus incised according to 
design, with the resulting contrast of 
surfaces, or partly upon such lines and 
contrast, and partly upon an under-coat 

M l6l 



Of Sgraffito of colour revealed by the incisions ; 

°^ * while, again, the means at disposal may 

be increased by varying the colours of 

the under-coat in accordance with the 

design. 

Of the potter's sgraffito I have no 
experience, but it is my present purpose 
briefly and practically to examine the 
method, special aptitudes, and limitations 
of polychrome sgraffito as applied to the 
plasterer's craft. 

First, then, as to method. Given 
the wall intended to be treated : granted 
the completion of the scheme of decora- 
tion, the cartoons having been executed 
in several colours and the outlines firmly 
pricked, and further, all things being 
ready for beginning work. Hack off 
any existing plaster from the wall : when 
bare, rake and sweep out the joints 
thoroughly : when clean, give the wall 

as much water as it will drink : lay the 
162 



coarse coat, leaving the face rough in Of Sgraffito 
order to make a good key for the next Work. 
coat : when sufficiently set, fix your 
cartoon in its destined position with 
slate nails : pounce through the pricked 
outlines : remove the cartoon : replace 
the nails in the register holes : mark in 
with a brush in white oil paint the 
spaces for the different colours as shown 
in the cartoon, and pounced in outline 
on the coarse coat, placing the letters B, 
R, Y, etc., as the case may be, in order 
to show the plasterer where to lay the 
different colours — Black, Red, Yellow, 
etc. : give the wall as much water as it 
will drink : lay the colour coat in ac- 
cordance with the lettered spaces on the 
coarse coat, taking care not to displace 
the register nails, and leaving plenty of 
key for the final surface coat. 

In laying the colour coat, calculate 

how much of the colour surface it may 

163 



Of Sgraffito be advisable to get on the wall, as the 
same duration of time should be main- 
tained throughout the work between the 
laying of the colour coat and the follow- 
ing on with the final surface coat — for 
this reason, if the colour coat sets hard 
before the final coat is laid, it will 
not be possible to scrape up the colour 
to its full strength wherever it may be 
revealed by incision of the design. When 
sufficiently set, i.e. in about 24 hours, 
follow on with the final surface coat, 
only laying as much as can be cut and 
cleaned up in a day : when this is 
sufficiently steady, fix up the cartoon in 
its registered position : pounce through 
the pricked outlines : remove the cartoon 
and cut the design in the surface coat 
before it sets : then, if your register is 
correct, you will cut through to different 
colours according to the design, and in 

the course of a few days the work should 
164 



set as hard and homogeneous as stone, Of Sgraffito 
and as damp-proof as the nature of Work. 
things permits. 

The three coats above referred to may 
be gauged as follows : — 

Coarse Coat, — 2 or 3 of sharp clean 
sand to i of Portland, to be laid about 
I inch in thickness. This coat is to 
promote an even suction and to keep 
back damp. 

Colour Coat. — i of colour to ij of 
old Portland, to be laid about \ inch in 
thickness. Specially prepared distemper 
colours should be used, and amongst 
such may be mentioned golden ochre, 
Turkey red, Indian red, manganese 
black, lime blue, and umber. 

Final Surface Coat, — Aberthaw lime 
and selenitic cement, both sifted through 
a fine sieve — the proportions of the 
gauge depend upon the heat of the lime : 
or, Parian cement sifted as above — air- 

165 



Of Sgraffito slaked for 24 hours, and gauged with 

Work. water coloured with ochre, so as to give 

a creamy tone when the plaster dries out : 

or, 3 of selenitic cement to 2 of silver 

sand, both sifted as above — this may be 

used for out-door work. 

Individual taste and experience must 

decide as to the thickness of the final 

coat, but if laid between ^ and ^ inch, 

and the lines cut with slanting edges, a 

side light gives emphasis to the finished 

result, making the outlines tell alternately 

as they take the light or cast a shadow. 

Plasterers* small tools of various kinds 

and knife-blades fixed in tool handles 

will be found suited to the simple craft 

of cutting and clearing off the final 

surface coat ; but as to this a craftsman 

finds his own tools by experience, and 

indeed by the same acquired perception 

must be interpreted all the foregoing 

directions, and specially that ambiguous 
166 



word, dear to the writers of recipes, — Of Sgraffito 

Sufficient. ^°'^- 

Thus far method. Now, as to special 

aptitudes and limitations. Sgraffito work 

may claim a special aptitude for design 

whose centre of aim is line. It has no 

beauty of material like glass, no mystery 

of surface like mosaic, no pre-eminence 

of subtly-woven tone and colour like 

tapestry ; yet it gives freer play to line 

than any of these mentioned fields of 

design, and a cartoon for sgraffito can 

be executed in facsimile, undeviated by 

warp and woof, and unchecked by 

angular tesserae or lead lines. True, 

hardness of design may easily result 

fi-om this aptitude, indeed is to a 

certain extent inherent to the method 

under examination, but in overcoming 

this danger and in making the most of 

this aptitude is the artist discovered. 

Sgraffito fi-om its very nature " asserts 

167 



Of Sgraffito the wall " ; that is, preserves the solid 
'' appearance of the building which it is 
intended to decorate. The decoration is 
in the wall rather than on the wall. It 
seems to be organic. The inner surface 
of the actual wall changes colour in 
puzzling but orderly sequence, as the 
upper surface passes into expressive lines 
and spaces, delivers its simple message, 
and then relapses into silence ; but 
whether incised with intricate design, 
or left in plain relieving spaces, the wall 
receives no further treatment, the marks 
of float, trowel, and scraper remain, and 
combine to make a natural surface. 

It compels the work to be executed 
in situ. The studio must be exchanged 
for the scaffold, and the result should 
justify the inconvenience. However 
carefully the scheme of decoration may 
be designed, slight yet important modifi- 
cations and readjustments will probably 
i68 



be found necessary in the transfer from Of Sgraffito 
cartoon to wall ; and though the ascent ^o^k. 
of the scaffold may seem an indignity to 
those who prefer to suiFer vicariously in 
the execution of their works, and though 
we of the nineteenth know, as Cennini 
of the fifteenth century knew, " that 
painting pictures is the proper employ- 
ment of a gentleman, and with velvet on 
his back he may paint what he pleases," 
still the fact remains, that if decoration 
is to attain that inevitable fitness for its 
place which is the fulfilment of design, 
this *' proper employment of a gentle- 
man" must be postponed, and velvet 
exchanged for blouse. 

It compels a quick, sure manner of 
work ; and this quickness of execution, 
due to the setting nature of the final 
coat, and to the consequent necessity of 
working against time, gives an appearance 

of strenuous ease to the firm incisions 

169 



Of Sgraffito and spaces by which the design is ex- 
°^^* pressed, and a hving energy of line to 
the whole. Again, the setting nature 
of the colour coat suggests, and naturally 
lends itself to, an occasional addition in 
the shape of mosaic to the means at 
disposal, and a little glitter here and 
there will be found to go a long way in 
giving points of emphasis and play to 
large surfaces. 

It compels the artist to adopt a limited 
colour scheme — a limitation, and yet 
one which may almost be welcomed as 
an aptitude, for of colours in decorative 
work multiplication may be said to be a 
vexation. 

Finally, the limitations of sgraffito as 

a method of expression are the same as 

those of all incised or line work. By it 

you can express ideas and suggest life, 

but you cannot realise, — cannot imitate 

the natural objects on which your graphic 
170 



language is founded. The means at Of Sgraffito 
disposal are too scanty. Item : white ^^ ' 
lines and spaces relieved against and 
slightly raised on a coloured ground ; 
coloured lines and spaces slightly sunk 
on a white surface ; intricacy relieved 
by simplicity of line, and again either 
relieved by plain spaces of coloured 
ground or white surface. Indeed they 
are simple means. Yet line still remains 
the readiest manner of graphic expres- 
sion ; and if in the strength of limita- 
tion our past masters of the arts and 
crafts have had power to " free, arouse, 
dilate" by their simple record of hand 
and soul, we also should be able to 
bring forth new achievement from old 
method, and to suggest the life and 
express the ideas which sway the latter 
years of our own century. 

Heywood Sumner. 



171 



OF STUCCO AND GESSO 

CEW things are more disheartening 
to the pursuer of plastic art than 
finding that, when he has carried his own 
labour to a certain point, he has to en- 
trust it to another in order to render it 
permanent and useful. If he models in 
clay and wishes it burnt into terra cotta, 
the shrinkage and risk in firing, and the 
danger in transport to the kiln, are a night- 
mare to him. If he wishes it cast in 
plaster, the distortion by waste-moulding, 
or the cost of piece-moulding, are serious 
grievances to him, considering that after 

all he has but a friable result ; and though 
172 



this latter objection is minimised by Mrs. Of Stucco 
Laxton Clark's ingenious process of in- ^"^ Gesso, 
durating plaster, yet I am persuaded 
that most modellers would prefer to 
complete their work in some permanent 
form with their own hands. 

Having this desirable end in view, I 
wish to draw their attention to some 
disused processes which once largely pre- 
vailed, by which the artist is enabled to 
finish, and render durable and vendible, 
his work, without having to part with it 
or pay for another's aid. r 

These old processes are modelling in 
Stucco-duro and Gesso. 

Stucco-duro, although of very ancient 
practice, is now practically a lost art. 
The materials required are simply well- 
burnt and slacked lime, a little fine sand, 
and some finely- ground unburnt lime- 
stone or white marble dust. These are 
well tempered together with water and 

173 



Of Stucco beaten up with sticks until a good work- 
and Gesso. ^|^jg p^^^^ results. In fact, the preparation 
of the materials is exactly the same as that 
described by Vitruvius, who recommends 
that the fragments of marble be sifted 
into three degrees of fineness, using the 
coarser for the rough bossage, the medium 
for the general modelling, and the finest 
for the surface finish, after which it can 
be polished with chalk and powdered 
lime if necessary. Indeed, to so fine a 
surface can this material be brought, and 
so highly can it be polished, that he 
mentions its use for mirrors. 

The only caution that it is needful to 
give is to avoid working too quickly; for, 
as Sir Henry Wooton, King James's ambas- 
sador at Venice, who greatly advocated the 
use of stucco-duro, observed, the stucco 
worker "makes his figures by addition 
and the carver by subtraction," and to 
avoid too great risk of the work cracking 
174 



in drying, these additions must be made Of Stucco 

slowly where the relief is great. If the ^^^ Gesso. 

relief is very great, or if a figure of large 

dimensions is essayed, it may be needful 

even to delay the drying of the stucco, 

and the addition of a little stiff paste 

will insure this, so that the work may 

be consecutively worked upon for many 

days. 

From the remains of the stucco work 
of classic times left us, we can realise 
how perfectly workable this material was ; 
and if you examine the plaster casts * 

taken from some most delicate low-relief 
plaques in stucco exhumed some ten 
years ago near the Villa Farnesina at 
Rome, or the rougher and readier frag- 
ments of stucco-duro itself from some 
Italo-Greek tombs, both of which are to 
be seen in the South Kensington Museum, 
you will at once be convinced of the great 
applicability of the process. 

175 



Of Stucco With the decadence of classic art 
and Gesso, gome portion of the process seems to 
have been lost, and the use of pounded 
travertine was substituted for white 
marble ; but, as the bassi - relievi of 
the early Renaissance were mostly- 
decorated with colour, this was not 
important. The ground colours seem 
generally to have been laid on whilst 
the stucco was wet, as in fresco, and 
the details heightened with tempera or 
encaustic colours, sometimes with ac- 
cessories enriched in gilt " gesso " (of 
which hereafter). Many remains of 
these exist, and in the Nineteenth 
Winter Exhibition of the Royal Aca- 
demy there were no less than twelve 
very interesting examples of it exhibited, 
and in the South Kensington Museum 
are some few moderately good illustra- 
tions of it. 

It was not, however, until the sixteenth 
176 



century that the old means of producing Of Stucco 
the highly-finished white stucchi were ^"^ ^^^^°- 
rediscovered, and this revival of the art 
as an architectonic accessory is due to the 
exhumation of the baths of Titus under 
Leo X. Raphael and Giovanni da Udine 
were then so struck with the beauty of 
the stucco work thus exposed to view 
that its re-use was at once determined 
upon, and the Loggia of the Vatican was 
the first result of many experiments, 
though the re- invented process seems 
to have been precisely that described 
by Vitruvius. Naturally, the art of 
modelling in stucco at once became 
popular : the patronage of it by the 
Pope, and the practice of it by the 
artists who worked for him, gave it 
the highest sanction, and hardly a 
building of any architectural import- 
ance was erected in Italy during the 

sixteenth century that did not bear 
N 177 



Of Stucco evidence of the artistic craft of the 

and Gesso, gtuccatori. 

There has just (Autumn, 1889) arrived 
at the South Kensington Museum a model 
of the central hall of the Villa Madama 
in Rome, thus decorated by Giulio 
Romano and Giovanni da Udine, which 
exemplifies the adaptability of the pro- 
cess ; and in this model Cav. Mariani 
has employed stucco-duro for its execu- 
tion, showing to how high a pitch of 
finish this material is capable of being 
carried. Indeed, it was used by gold- 
smiths for the models for their craft, as 
being less liable to injury than wax, yet 
capable of receiving equally delicate treat- 
ment ; and Benvenuto Cellini modelled 
the celebrated " button," with " that 
magnificent big diamond " in the middle, 
for the cope of Pope Clement, with all 
its intricate detail, in this material. How 

minute this work of some six inches 
178 



diameter was may be inferred from Of Stucco 
Cellini's own description of it. Above ^^^ ^^^^°- 
the diamond, in the centre of the piece, 
was shown God the Father seated, in the 
act of giving the benediction ; below were 
three children, who, with their arms up- 
raised, were supporting the jewel. One 
of them, in the middle, was in full relief, 
the other two in half-relief. '^ All round 
I set a crowd of cherubs in divers atti- 
tudes. A mantle undulated to the wind 
around the figure of the Father, from the 
folds of which cherubs peeped out ; and 
there were many other ornaments besides, 
which," adds he, and for once we may 
believe him, " made a very beautiful 
effect." At the same time, figures larger 
than life, indeed colossal figures, were 
executed in it, and in our own country 
the Italian artists brought over by our 
Henry VIII. worked in that style for his 
vanished palace of Nonsuch. Gradually, 

179 



Of Stucco stucco-duro fell into disuse, and coarse 

and Gesso, pargetry and modelled plaster ceilings 

became in later years its sole and 

degenerate descendants. 

Gesso is really a painter's art rather 

than a sculptor's, and consists in impasto 

painting with a mixture of plaster of 

Paris or whiting in glue (the composition 

with which the ground of his pictures is 

laid) after roughly modelling the higher 

forms with tow or some fibrous material 

incorporated with the gesso ; but it is 

questionable if gesso is the best vehicle 

for any but the lowest relief. By it the 

most subtle and delicate variation of 

surface can be obtained, and the finest 

lines pencilled, analogous, in fact, to the 

fine pate sur pate work in porcelain. Its 

chief use in early times was in the 

accessories of painting, as the nimbi, 

attributes, and jewellery of the personage 

represented, and it was almost entirely 
i8o 



used as a ground- work for gilding upon. Of Stucco 
Abundant illustration of this usage will ^^^ ^^^^°- 
be found in the pictures by the early- 
Italian masters in the National Gallery. 
The retables of altars were largely 
decorated in this material, a notable 
example being that still existing in West- 
minster Abbey. 

Many of the gorgeous accessories to 
the panoply of war in mediaeval times, 
such as decorative shields and the lighter 
military accoutrements, were thus orna- 
mented in low relief, and on the high- ^ 
cruppered and high -peaked saddles it 
was abundantly displayed. In the six- 
teenth-century work of Germany it 
seems to have received an admixture of 
finely -pounded lithographic stone, or 
hone stone, by which it became of such 
hardness as to be taken for sculpture in 
these materials. Its chief use, however, 

was for the decoration of the caskets 

i8i 



Of Stucco and ornamental objects which make up 

and Gesso, ^j^g refinement of domestic life, and the 

base representative of it which figures 

on our picture - frames claims a noble 

ancestry. 

Its tenacity, when well prepared, is 
exceedingly great, and I have used it on 
glass, on polished marble, on porcelain, 
and such like non-absorbent surfaces, 
from which it can scarcely be separated 
without destruction of its base. Indeed, 
for miniature art, gesso possesses innumer- 
able advantages not presented by any 
other medium, but it is hardly available 
for larger works. 

Time and space will not permit my 
entering more fully into these two forms 
of plastic art ; but seeing that we are 
annually receiving such large accessions 
to the numbers of our modellers, and as, 
of course, it is not possible for all these 

to achieve success in, or find a means of 
182 



living by, the art of sculpture in marble, Of Stucco 
I have sought to indicate a home-art ^^*^ ^^^^°* 
means by which, at very moderate cost, 
they can bring their labours in useful 
form before the world, and at the same 
time learn and live. 

G. T. Robinson. 



183 



OF CAST IRON 

/^^AST iron is nearly our humblest 

^^ material, and with associations less 

than all artistic, for it has been almost 

hopelessly vulgarised in the present 

century, so much so that Mr. Ruskin, 

with his fearless use of paradox to shock 

one into thought, has laid it down that 

cast iron is an artistic solecism, impossible 

for architectural service now, or at any 

time. And yet, although we can never 

claim for iron the beauty of bronze, it is 

in some degree a parallel material, and 

has been used with appreciation in many 

ways up to the beginning of this century. 
184 



Iron was already known in Sussex at Of 
the coming of the Romans. Through- ^^'^ 1^°"- 
out this county and Kent, in out-of-the- 
way farm-houses, iron fire-backs to open 
hearths, fine specimens of the founder's 
art, are still in daily use as they have 
been for three hundred years or more. 
Some have Gothic diapers and meanders 
of vine with heraldic badges and initials, 
and are evidently cast from models made 
in the fifteenth century, patterns that 
remained in stock and were cast from 
again and again. Others, of the follow- 
ing centuries, have coat-arms and sup- 
porters, salamanders in the flames, figures, 
a triton or centaur, or even a scene, the 
Judgment of Solomon, or Marriage of 
Alexander, or, more appropriately, mere 
pattern-work, vases of flowers and the 
like. However crude they may be, and 
some are absurdly inadequate as sculpture, 
the sense of treatment and relief suitable 

185 



Of to the material never fails to give them 
Cast Iron, a fit interest. 

With these backs cast-iron fire-dogs 
are often found, of which some Gothic 
examples also remain, simple in form 
with soft dull modelling ; later, these 
were often a mere obelisk on a base 
surmounted by a ball or a bird, or rude 
terminal figures ; sometimes a more 
delicate full figure, the limbs well to- 
gether, so that nothing projects from the 
general post-like form ; and within their 
limitations they are not without grace 
and character. 

In Frant church, near Tunbridge, are 
several cast-iron grave slabs about six 
feet long by half that width, perfectly 
flat, one with a single shield of arms and 
some letters, others with several ; they 
are quite successfiil, natural, and not in 
the least vulgar. 

Iron railings are the most usual form 
i86 



of cast iron as an accessory to architecture ; Of 
the earlier examples of these in London ^^^^ ^^°^- 
are thoroughly fit for their purpose and 
their material ; sturdily simple forms of 
gently swelling curves, or with slightly 
rounded reliefs. The original railing at 
St. Paul's, of Lamberhurst iron, is the 
finest of these, a large portion of which 
around the west front was removed in 
1873. Another example encloses the 
portico of St. Martin's -in -the -Fields. 
The railing of the central area of Berke- 
ley Square is beautifully designed, and 
there are instances here, as in Grosvenor 
Square, where cast iron is used together 
with wrought, a difficult combination. 

Balcony railings and staircase balus- 
trades are quite general to houses of the 
late eighteenth century. Refined and 
thoroughly good of their kind, they never 
fail to please, and never, of course, 
imitate wrought iron. The design is 

187 



Of always direct, unpretentious and effortless, 
Cast Iron. • j^ ^ manner that became at this time 
quite a tradition. 

The verandahs also, of which there 
are so many in Piccadilly or Mayfair, 
with posts reeded and of delicate profiles, 
are of the same kind, confessedly cast 
iron, and never without the characterising 
dulness of the forms, so that they have 
no jutting members to be broken off, to 
expose a repulsive jagged fracture. The 
opposite of all these qualities may be 
found in the " expensive "-looking railing 
on the Embankment enclosing the 
gardens, whose tiny fretted and fretful 
forms invite an experiment often suc- 
cessful. 

It must be understood that cast iron 

should be merely a flat lattice-like design, 

obviously cast in panels^ or plain post 

and rail construction with cast uprights 

and terminal knops tenoned into rails, 
i88 



so that there is no doubt of straight- Of 
forward unaffected fitting. The British ^^'^ I^^"* 
Museum screen may be taken to instance 
how ample ability will not redeem false 
principles of design : the construction is 
not clear, nor are the forms sufficiently 
simple, the result being only a high order 
of commonplace grandeur. 

Even the lamp-posts set up in the 
beginning of the century for oil lights, a 
few of which have not yet been improved 
away from back streets, show the same , 

care for appropriate form. Some of 
the Pall Mall Clubs, again, have well- 
designed candelabra of a more preten- 
tious kind ; also London and Waterloo 
Bridges. 

The fire-grates, both with hobs and 

close fronts, that came into use about the 

middle of the last century, are decorated 

all over the field with tiny flutings, 

beads, and leaf mouldings, sometimes 

189 



Of even with little figure medallions, and 
Cast Iron, ^arry delicacy to its limit. The better 
examples are entirely successful, both in 
form and in the ornamentation, which, 
adapted to this new purpose, does no 
more than gracefully acknowledge its 
debt to the past, just as the best orna- 
ment at all times is neither original nor 
copied: it must recognise tradition, and 
add something which shall be the tradition 
of the future. The method followed is 
to keep the general form quite simple 
and the areas flat, while the decoration, 
just an embroidery of the surface, is of 
one substance and in the slightest possible 
relief. Other larger grates there were 
with plain surfaces simply framed with 
mouldings. 

Even the sculptor has not refused iron. 
Pliny says there were two statues in 
Rhodes, one of iron and copper, and the 

other, a Hercules, entirely of iron. In 
190 



the palace at Prague there is a St. Of 
George horsed and armed, the work of ^^^' ^^°"* 
the fourteenth century. The qualities 
natural to iron which it has to offer for 
sculpture may best be appreciated by 
seeing the examples at the Museum of 
Geology, in Jermyn Street. On the stair- 
case there are two large dogs, two orna- 
mental candelabra, and two figures ; the 
dogs, although not fine as sculpture, are 
well treated, in mass and surface, for the 
metal. In the same museum there is a 
smaller statue still better for surface and 
finish, a French work signed and dated 
1 84 1, and, therefore, half an antique. 
But for ordinary foundry-work without 
surface finish — probably the most ap- 
propriate, certainly the most available, 
method — the little lions on the outer 
rail at the British Museum are proof of 
how sufficient feeling for design will 

dignify any material for any object ; 

191 



Of they are by the late Alfred Stevens, and 
Cast Iron, ^j.^ thoroughly iron beasts, so slightly 
modelled that they would be only blocked 
out for bronze. In the Geological 
Museum are also specimens of Berlin 
and Ilsenburg manufacture ; they serve 
to point the moral that ingenuity is not 
art, nor tenuity refinement. 

The question of rust is a difficult one, 
the oxide not being an added beauty 
like the patina acquired by bronze, yet 
the decay of cast iron is much less than 
is generally thought, especially on large 
smooth surfaces, if the casting has been 
once treated by an oil bath or a coating 
of hot tar : the celebrated iron pillar of 
Delhi, some twenty feet high, has stood 
for fourteen centuries, and shows, it is 
said, little evidence of decay. It would 
be interesting to see how cast spheres 
of good iron would be affected in our 

climate, if occasionally coated with a 
192 



lacquer. In painting, the range of tints Of 
best approved is black through gray to ^^^^ ^^^^' 
white : the simple negative gray gives 
a pleasant unobtrusiveness to the well- 
designed iron -work of the Northern 
Station in Paris, whereas our almost 
universal Indian red is a very bad choice 
— a hot coarse colour, you must see it, 
and be irritated, and it is surely the only 
colour that gets worse as it bleaches in 
the sun. Gilding is suitable to a certain 
extent ; but for internal work the homely . 

black-leading cannot be bettered. 

To put together the results obtained 
in our examination of examples. 

( 1 ) The metal must be both good and 
carefully manipulated. 

(2) The design must be thought out 
through the material and its traditional 
methods. 

(3) The pattern must have the orna- 
ment modelled, not carved, as is almost 

o 193 



Of universally the case now, carving in 
Cast Iron, ^qq^^ being entirely unfit to give the 
soft suggestive relief required both by 
the nature of the sand-mould into which 
it is impressed, and the crystalline struc- 
ture of the metal when cast. 

(4) Flat surfaces like grate fronts may 
be decorated with some intricacy if the 
relief is delicate. But the relief must be 
less than the basis of attachment, so that 
the moulding may be easily practicable, 
and no portions invite one to test how 
easily they might be detached. 

(5) Objects in the round must have a 
simple and substantial bounding form 
with but little ornament, and that only 
suggested. This applies equally to 
figures. In them homogeneous struc- 
ture is of the first importance. 

(6) When possible, the surface should 

be finished and left as a metal casting. 

It may, however, be entirely gilt. If 
194 



painted, the colour must be neutral and Of 

Cast Iron, 
gray. 

Casting in iron has been so abased and 

abused that it is almost difficult to believe 

that the metal has anything to offer to 

the arts. At no other time and in no 

other country would a national staple 

commodity have been so degraded. Yet 

in its strength under pressure, but fragility 

to a blow, in certain qualities of texture 

and of required manipulation, it invites 

a specially characterised treatment in the 

design, and it offers one of the few 

materials naturally black available in the 

colour arrangement of interiors. 

W. R. Lethaby. 



195 



OF DYEING AS AN ART 

r^YEING is a very ancient art ; from 
^^ the earliest times of the ancient 
civilisations till within about forty years 
ago there had been no essential change 
in it, and not much change of any kind. 
Up to the time of the discovery of the 
process of Prussian-blue dyeing in about 
1 8 1 o (it was known as a pigment thirty 
or forty years earlier), the only changes 
in the art were the result of the intro- 
duction of the American insect dye 
(cochineal), which gradually superseded 
the European one (kermes), and the 

American wood -dyes now known as 
196 



logwood and Brazil-wood : the latter Of Dyeing 
differs little from the Asiatic and African ^^ ^^ ^^^• 
Red Saunders, and other red dye-woods ; 
the former has cheapened and worsened 
black-dyeing, in so far as it has taken 
the place of the indigo-vat as a basis. 
The American quercitron bark gives us 
also a useful additional yellow dye. 

These changes, and one or two others, 
however, did little towards revolution- 
ising the art ; that revolution was left 
for our own days, and resulted from the 
discovery of what are known as the Ani- 
line dyes, deduced by a long process 
from the plants of the coal-measures. 
Of these dyes it must be enough to say 
that their discovery, while conferring the 
greatest honour on the abstract science of 
chemistry, and while doing great service 
to capitalists in their hunt after profits, 
has terribly injured the art of dyeing, and 

for the general public has nearly destroyed 

197 



Of Dyeing it as an art. Henceforward there is an 
as an Art. absolute divorce between the commercial 
process and the art of dyeing. Any- 
one wanting to produce dyed textiles 
with any artistic quality in them must 
entirely forgo the modern and commer- 
cial methods in favour of those which 
are at least as old as Pliny, who speaks 
of them as being old in his time. 

Now, in order to dye textiles in 
patterns or otherwise, we need four 
colours to start with — to wit, blue, red, 
yellow, and brown ; green, purple, black, 
and all intermediate shades can be made 
from a mixture of these colours. 

Blue is given us by indigo and woad, 
which do not differ in colour in the least, 
their chemical product being the same. 
Woad may be called northern indigo ; 
and indigo tropical or sub-tropical woad. 

Note that until the introduction of 

Prussian blue about 1810 there was no 
198 



other blue dye except this indigotine that Of Dyeing 

could be called a dye ; the other blue ^^ ^^ ^''^* 

dyes were mere stains which would not 

bear the sun for more than a few days. 

Red is yielded by the insect dyes 

kermes, lac-dye, and cochineal, and by the 

vegetable dye madder. Of these, kermes 

is the king ; brighter than madder and at 

once more permanent and more beautiful 

than cochineal : the latter on an aluminous 

basis gives a rather cold crimson, and 

on a tin basis a rather hot scarlet (e.g. the 

dress-coat of a line officer). Madder 

yields on wool a deep-toned blood-red, 

somewhat bricky and tending to scarlet. 

On cotton and linen, all imaginable shades 

of red according to the process. It is 

not of much use in dyeing silk, which it 

is apt to " blind " ; i.e. it takes off the 

gloss. Lac-dye gives a hot and not 

pleasant scarlet, as may be noted in a 

private militiaman's coat. The French 

199 



Of Dyeing liners' trousers, by the way, are, or were, 
as an Art. ^^^j ^-^j^ madder, so that their country- 
men sometimes call them the " Madder- 
wearers " ; but their cloth is somewhat 
too cheaply dyed to do credit to the 
drysaltery. 

Besides these permanent red dyes there 
are others produced from woods, called 
in the Middle Ages by the general name 
of " Brazil " ; whence the name of the 
American country, because the conquerors 
found so much dyeing-wood growing 
there. Some of these wood-dyes are very 
beautiful in colour ; but unluckily they 
are none of them permanent, as you may 
see by examining the beautiful stuffs of 
the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries at 
the South Kensington Museum, in which 
you will scarcely find any red, but plenty 
of fawn-colour, which is in fact the wood- 
red of 500 years ago thus faded. If you 
turn from them to the Gothic tapestries, 



and note the reds in them, you will have Of Dyeing 
the measure of the relative permanence of *^ ^^ ^^^' 
kermes and " Brazil," the tapestry reds 
being all dyed with kermes, and still 
retaining the greater part of their colour. 
The mediaeval dyers must be partly 
excused, however, because " Brazil " is 
especially a silk dye, kermes sharing 
somewhat in the ill qualities of madder 
for silk ; though I have dyed silk in 
kermes and got very beautiful and power- 
ful colours by means of it. 

Yellow dyes are chiefly given us by 
weld (sometimes called wild mignonette), 
quercitron bark (above mentioned), and 
old fustic, an American dye-wood. Of 
these weld is much the prettiest, and is 
the yellow silk dye par excellence, though 
it dyes wool well enough. But yellow 
dyes are the commonest to be met with 
in nature, and our fields and hedgerows 
bear plenty of greening-weeds, as our 



20I 



Of Dyeing forefathers called them, since they used 
as an Art. ^j^^j^ chiefly for greening blue woollen 
cloth ; for, as you may well believe, they, 
being good colourists, had no great taste 
for yellow woollen stuff. Dyers'-broom, 
saw-wort, the twigs of the poplar, the 
osier, and the birch, heather, broom, 
flowers and twigs, will all of them give 
yellows of more or less permanence. Of 
these I have tried poplar and osier twigs, 
which both gave a strong yellow, but the 
former not a very permanent one. 

Speaking generally, yellow dyes are 
the least permanent of all, as once more 
you may see by looking at an old tapestry, 
in which the greens have always faded 
more than the reds or blues ; the best 
yellow dyes, however, lose only their 
brighter shade, the " lemon " colour, and 
leave a residuum of brownish yellow, 
which still makes a kind of a green over 
the blue. 



Brown is best got from the roots of Of Dyeing 
the walnut tree, or in their default from ^^ ^^ ^"* 
the green husks of the nuts. This material 
is especially best for " saddening," as the 
old dyers used to call it. The best and 
most enduring blacks also were done with 
this simple dye-stuff, the goods being 
first dyed in the indigo or woad-vat till 
they were a very dark blue and then 
browned into black by means of the wal- 
nut-root. Catechu, the inspissated juice 
of a plant or plants, which comes to us 
fi:om India, also gives rich and useful 
permanent browns of various shades. 

Green is obtained by dyeing a blue of 
the required shade in the indigo -vat, 
and then greening it with a good yellow 
dye, adding what else may be necessary 
(as, e.g., madder) to modify the colour 
according to taste. 

Purple is got by blueing in the indigo- 
vat, and afterwards by a bath of cochineal, 

203 



Of Dyeing or kermes, or madder ; all intermediate 
as an rt. gj^^^^gg ^f claret and murrey and russet 
can be got by these drugs helped out by 
" saddening." 

Black, as aforesaid, is best made by 
, dyeing dark blue wool with brown ; and 

walnut is better than iron for the brown 
part, because the iron-brown is apt to rot 
the fibre ; as once more you will see in 
some pieces of old tapestry or old Persian 
carpets, where the black is quite perished, 
or at least in the case of the carpet gone 
down to the knots. All intermediate 
shades can, as aforesaid, be got by the 
blending of these prime colours, or by 
using weak baths of them. For instance, 
all shades of flesh colour can be got by 
means of weak baths of madder and wal- 
nut '* saddening " ; madder or cochineal 
mixed with weld gives us orange, and 
with saddening all imaginable shades 

between yellow and red, including the 
204 



ambers, maize-colour, etc. The crimsons Of Dyeing 
in Gothic tapestries must have been got ^^ ^^ ^^^* 
by dyeing kermes over pale shades of 
blue, since the crimson red-dye, cochineal, 
had not yet come to Europe. 

A word or two (entirely unscientific) 
about the processes of this old-fashioned 
or artistic dyeing. 

In the first place, all dyes must be 
soluble colours, differing in this respect 
from pigments ; most of which are in- 
soluble, and are only very finely divided, 
as, e,g., ultramarine, umber, terre-verte. 

Next, dyes may be divided into those 
which need a mordant and those which 
do not ; or, as the old chemist Bancroft 
very conveniently expresses it, into adjec- 
tive and substantive dyes. 

Indigo is the great substantive dye : 

the indigo has to be de- oxidised and 

thereby made soluble, in which state 

it loses its blue colour in proportion as 

205 



Of Dyeing the solution is complete ; the goods are 
as an Art. plunged into this solution and worked 
in it " between two waters," as the phrase 
goes, and when exposed to the air the 
indigo they have got on them is swiftly- 
oxidised, and once more becomes in- 
soluble. This process is repeated till the 
required shade is got. All shades of 
blue can be got by this means, from the 
pale *'watchet," as our forefathers called 
it, up to the blue which the eighteenth- 
century French dyers called " Bleu 
d'enfer.'* Navy Blue is the politer name 
for it to-day in England. I must add 
that, though this seems an easy process, 
the setting of the blue-vat is a ticklish 
job, and requires, I should say, more ex- 
perience than any other dyeing process. 

The brown dyes, walnut and catechu, 
need no mordant, and are substantive 
dyes ; some of the yellows also can be 

dyed without mordant, but are much 
206 



improved by it. The red dyes, kermes Of Dyeing 

and madder, and the yellow dye weld, ^^ ^^ ^^^• 

are especially mordant or adjective dyes : 

they are all dyed on an aluminous basis. 

To put the matter plainly, the goods are 

worked in a solution of alum (usually 

with a little acid added), and after an 

interval of a day or two (ageing) are 

dyed in a bath of the dissolved dye-stufF. 

A lake is thus formed on the fibre which 

is in most cases very durable. The 

effect of this " mordanting " of the fibre 

is clearest seen in the maddering of 

printed cotton goods, which are first 

printed with aluminous mordants of 

various degrees of strength (or with iron 

if black is needed, or a mixture of iron 

with alumina for purple), and then dyed 

wholesale in the madder-beck : the result 

being that the parts which have been 

mordanted come out various shades of 

red, etc., according to the strength or 

207 



Of Dyeing composition of the mordant, while the 
as an Art. unmordanted parts remain a dirty pink, 
which has to be '' cleared '* into white 
by soaping and exposure to the sun and 
air ; which process both brightens and 
fixes the dyed parts. 

Pliny saw this going on in Egypt, and 
it puzzled him very much, that a cloth 
dyed in one colour should come out 
coloured diversely. 

That reminds me to say a word on the 
fish-dye of the ancients : it was a sub- 
stantive dye and behaved somewhat as 
indigo. It was very permanent. The 
colour was a real purple in the modern 
sense of the word, i.e. a colour or shades 
of a colour between red and blue. The 
real Byzantine books which are written 
on purple vellum give you some, at least, 
of its shades. The ancients, you must 
remember, used words for colours in a 

way that seems vague to us, because they 
208 



f 



were generally thinking of the tone rather Of Dyeing 
than the tint. When they wanted to ^^ ^^ ^^^• 
specify a red dye they would not use the 
word purpureus, but coccineus, i.e. scarlet 
of kermes. 

The art of dyeing, I am bound to say, 
is a difficult one, needing for its practice 
a good craftsman, with plenty of experi- 
ence. Matching a colour by means of it 
is an agreeable but somewhat anxious 
game to play. 

As to the artistic value of these dye- 
stuffs, most of which, together with the 
necessary mordant alumina, the world 
discovered in early times (I mean early 
historical times), I must tell you that 
they all make in their simplest forms 
beautiful colours ; they need no mud- 
dling into artistic usefulness, when you 
need your colours bright (as I hope you 
usually do), and they can be modified 

and toned without dirtying, as the foul 
p 209 



Of Dyeing blotches of the capitalist dyer cannot be. 

as an Art. -j^ike all dyes, they are not eternal ; the 
sun in lighting them and beautifying 
them consumes them ; yet gradually, 
and for the most part kindly, as (to use 
my example for the last time in this 
paper) you will see if you look at the 
Gothic tapestries in the drawing-room 
at Hampton Court. These colours in 
fading still remain beautiful, and never, 
even after long wear, pass into nothing- 
ness, through that stage of livid ugliness 
which distinguishes the commercial dyes 
as nuisances, even more than their short 
and by no means merry life. 

I may also note that no textiles dyed 
blue or green, otherwise than by indigo, 
keep an agreeable colour by candle-light : 
many quite bright greens turning into 
sheer drab. A fashionable blue which 
simulates indigo turns into a slaty purple 
by candle-light ; and Prussian blues are 



2IO 



also much damaged by it. I except from Of Dyeing 
this condemnation a commercial green ^^ ^^ ^^^' 
known as gas-green, which is as abomin- 
able as its name, both by daylight and 
gaslight, and indeed one would almost 
expect it to make unlighted midnight 

hideous. 

William Morris. 



( 



211 



OF EMBROIDERY 

HP HE technicalities of Embroidery are 
* very simple and its tools few — 
practically consisting of a needle, and 
nothing else. The work can be wrought 
loose in the hand, or stretched in a frame, 
which latter mode is often advisable, 
always when smooth and minute work 
is aimed at. There are no mysteries of 
method beyond a few elementary rules 
that can be quickly learnt ; no way to 
perfection except that of care and patience 
and love of the work itself. This being 
so, the more is demanded from design 
and execution : we look for complete 

212 



triumph over the limitations of process Of 
and material, and, what is equally im- Embroidery, 
portant, a certain judgment and self- 
restraint ; and, in short, those mental 
qualities that distinguish mechanical 
from intelligent work. The latitude 
allowed to the worker ; the lavishness 
and ingenuity displayed in the stitches 
employed ; in short, the vivid expression 
of the worker's individuality, form a 
great part of the success of needlework. 

The varieties of stitch are too many to 
be closely described without diagrams, 
but the chief are as follows : — 

Chain-stitch consists of loops simulat- 
ing the links of a simple chain. Some 
of the most famous work of the Middle 
Ages was worked in this stitch, which is 
enduring, and of its nature necessitates 
careful execution. We are more familiar 
with it in the dainty work of the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth centuries, in the 

213 



Of airy brightness and simplicity of which 
Embroidery. |-gg ^ peculiar charm, contrasted with the 
more pompous and pretentious work of 
the same period. This stitch is also 
wrought with a hook on any loose 
material stretched in a tambour frame. 

Tapestry-stitch consists of a building- 
up of stitches laid one beside another, 
and gives a surface slightly resembling 
that of tapestry. I give the name as it 
is so often used, but it is vague, and 
leads to the confusion that exists in 
people's minds between loom-tapestry and 
embroidery. The stitch is worked in a 
frame, and is particularly suitable for the 
drapery of figures and anything that re- 
quires skilful blending of several colours, 
or a certain amount of shading. This 
facility of " painting " with the needle 
is in itself a danger, for it tempts some 
people to produce a highly shaded imita- 
tion of a picture, an attempt which must 
214 



be a failure both as a decorative and as a Of 

pictorial achievement. It cannot be said "^'^^o^^^'y- 

too often that the essential qualities of 

all good needlework are a broad surface, 

bold lines and pure, brilliant and, as a 

rule, simple colouring ; all of which 

being qualities attainable through, and 

prescribed by, the limitations of this 

art. 

Applique has been, and is still, a 
favourite method of work, which Vasari 
tells us Botticelli praised as being very suit- 
able to processional banners and hangings 
used in the open air, as it is solid and 
enduring, also bold and effective in style. 
It is more accurately described as a method 
of work in which various stitches are 
made use of, for it consists of designs 
embroidered on a stout ground and then 
cut out and laid on silk or velvet, and 
edged round with lines of gold or silk, 
and sometimes with pearls. It requires 

215 



Of considerable deftness and judgment in 
Embroidery, applying, as the work could well be spoilt 
by clumsy and heavy finishing. It is now 
looked upon as solely ecclesiastical, I 
believe, and is associated in our minds 
with garish red, gold and white, and with 
dull geometric ornament, though there 
is absolutely no reason why church 
embroidery of to-day should be limited 
to ungraceful forms and staring colours. 
A certain period of work, thick and 
solid, but not very interesting, either as 
to method or design, has been stereotyped 
into what is known as Ecclesiastical Em- 
broidery, the mechanical characteristics 
of the style being, of course, emphasised 
and exaggerated in the process. Church 
work will never be of the finest while 
these characteristics are insisted on ; the 
more pity, as it is seemly that the richest 
and noblest work should be devoted to 

churches, and to all buildings that belong 
216 



to and are an expression of the com- Of 
munal life of the people. Another and Embroidery, 
simpler form of applied work is to cut 
out the desired forms in one material and 
lay upon another, securing the applique 
with stitches round the outline, which 
are hidden by an edging cord. The 
work may be further enriched by light 
ornament of lines and flourishes laid 
directly on the ground material. 

Couching is an effective method of 
work, in which broad masses of silk or 
gold thread are laid down and secured 
by a network or diaper of crossing 
threads, through which the under sur- 
face shines very prettily. It is often 
used in conjunction with applique. There 
are as many varieties of couching stitches 
as the worker has invention for ; in some 
the threads are laid simply and flatly on 
the form to be covered, while in others 

a slight relief is obtained by layers of 

217 



Of soft linen thread which form a kind 
Embroidery, ^f moulding or Stuffing, and which are 
covered by the silk threads or whatever 
is to be the final decorative surface. 

The ingenious patchwork coverlets of 
our grandmothers, formed of scraps of 
old gowns pieced together in certain 
symmetrical forms, constitute the 
romance of family history, but this 
method has an older origin than would 
be imagined. Queen Isis-em-Kheb's em- 
balmed body went down the Nile to its 
burial-place under a canopy that was lately 
discovered, and is preserved in the Boulak 
Museum. It consists of many squares 
of gazelle-hide of different colours sewn 
together and ornamented with various 
devices. Under the name of patchwork, 
or mosaic -like piecing together of 
different coloured stuffs, comes also the 
Persian work made at Resht. Bits of 

fine cloth are cut out for leaves, flowers, and 
218 



so forth, and neatly stitched together Of 
with great accuracy. This done, the Embroidery, 
work is further carried out and enriched 
by chain and other stitches. The result 
is perfectly smooth flat work, no easy feat 
when done on a large scale, as it often is. 
Darning and running need little ex- 
planation. The former stitch is familiar 
to us in the well-known Cretan and 
Turkish cloths: the stitch here is used 
mechanically in parallel lines, and simu- 
lates weaving, so that these handsome 
borders in a deep rich red might as well 
have come from the loom as from the 
needle. Another method of darning is 
looser and coarser, and suitable only for 
cloths and hangings not subject to much 
wear and rubbing ; the stitches follow 
the curves of the design, which the needle 
paints, as it were, shading and blending 
the colours. It is necessary to use this 

facility for shading temperately, however, 

219 



Of or the flatness essential to decorative 
Embroidery. ^^^^ -^ j^g^^ 

The foregoing is a rough list of stitches 
which could be copiously supplemented, 
but that I am obliged to pass on to 
another important point, that of design. 
If needlework is to be looked upon 
seriously, it is necessary to secure appro- 
priate and practicable designs. Where 
the worker does not invent for herself, 
she should at least interpret her designer, 
just as the designer interprets and does 
not attempt to imitate nature. It follows 
from this, that it is better to avoid using 
designs of artists who know nothing of 
the capacities of needlework, and design 
beautiful and intricate forms without 
reference to the execution, the result 
being unsatisfactory and incomplete. Re- 
garding the design itself, broad bold lines 
should be chosen, and broad harmonious 
colour (which should be roughly planned 



220 



before setting to work), with as much Of 

minute work, and stitches introducing Embroidery. 

play of colour, as befits the purpose of 

the work and humour of the worker ; 

there should be no scratching, no indefi- 

niteness of form or colour, no vagueness 

that allows the eye to puzzle over the 

design — beyond that indefinable sense of 

mystery which arrests the attention and 

withholds the full charm of the work for 

a moment, to unfold it to those who 

stop to give it more than a glance. But 

there are so many different stitches and so 

many different modes of setting to work, 

that it will soon be seen that these few 

hints do not apply to all of them. One 

method, for instance, consists of trusting 

entirely to design, and leaves colour out 

of account : white work on white linen, 

white on dark ground, or black or dark 

blue upon white. Again, some work 

depends more on magnificence of colour 



Of than on form, as, for example, the hand- 
Embroidery. gQjj^g Italian hangings of the seventeenth 
century, worked in floss-silk, on linen 
sometimes, and sometimes on a dusky- 
open canvas which makes the silks gleam 
and glow like precious stones. 

In thus slightly describing the methods 
chiefly used in embroidery, I do so prin- 
cipally from old examples, as modern 
embroidery, being a dilettante pastime, 
has little distinct character, and is, in its 
best points, usually imitative. Eastern 
work still retains the old professional 
skill, but beauty of colour is rapidly dis- 
appearing, and little attention is paid to 
durability of the dyes used. In speaking 
rather slightingly of modern needlework, 
I must add that its non-success is often 
due more to the use of poor materials 
than to want of skill in working. It is 
surely folly to waste time over work that 
looks shabby in a month. The worker 



222 



should use judgment and thought to Of 
procure materials, not necessarily rich, EniDroidery. 
but each good and genuine of its kind. 
Lastly, she should not be sparing of her 
own handiwork, for, while a slightly 
executed piece of work depends wholly 
on design, in one where the actual 
stitchery is more elaborate, but the design 
less masterly, the patience and thought 
lavished on it render it in a different 
way equally pleasing, and bring it more 
within the scope of the amateur. 

May Morris. 



223 



OF LACE 

T ACE is a term freely used at the 
present time to describe various 
sorts of open ornament in thread work, 
the successflil effect of which depends 
very much upon the contrasting of 
more or less closely - textured forms 
with grounds or intervening spaces filled 
in with meshes of equal size or with 
cross -ties, bars, etc. Whence it has 
come to pass that fabrics having an 
appearance of this description, such as 
embroideries upon nets, cut linen works, 
drawn thread works, and machine-woven 

counterfeits of lace -like fabrics, are 

224 



frequently called laces. But they differ Of Lace, 
in make from those productions of certain 
specialised handicrafts to which from the 
sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries lace 
owes its fame. 

These specialised handicrafts are di- 
visible into two branches. The one 
branch involves the employment of a 
needle to loop a continuous thread into 
varieties of shapes and devices ; the 
other is in the nature of making corre- 
sponding or similar ornament by twisting 
and plaiting together a number of separate 
threads, the loose ends of which have to 
be fastened in a row on a cushion or 
pillow, the supply of the threads being 
wound around the heads of lengthened 
bobbins, so shaped for convenience in 
handling. The first-named branch is 
needlepoint lace-making ; the second, 
bobbin or pillow lace-making. Needle- 
point lace-making may be regarded as a 
Q 225 



Of Lace, species of embroidery, whilst bobbin or 
pillow lace-making is closely allied to 
the twisting and knotting together of 
threads for fringes. Embroidery, how- 
ever, postulates a foundation of material 
to be enriched with needlework, whereas 
needlepoint and pillow lace are wrought 
independently of any corresponding 
foundation of material. 

The production of slender needles and 
small metal pins is an important incident 
in the history of lace-making by hand. 
Broadly speaking, the manufacture for a 
widespread consumption of such metal 
pins and needles does not date earlier 
than the fourteenth century. Without 
small implements of this character deli- 
cate lace-making is not possible. It is 
therefore fair to assume that although 
historic nations like the Egyptian, As- 
syrian, Hebrew, Greek, and Roman, made 

use of fringes and knotted cords upon 
226 



their hangings, cloaks, and tunics, lace Of Lace, 
was unknown to them. Their bone, 
wooden, or metal pins and needles were 
suited to certain classes of embroidery 
and to the making of nets, looped cords, 
etc., but not to such lace -making as 
we know it from the early days of the 
sixteenth century. 

About the end of the fifteenth century, 
with the development in Europe of fine 
linen for underclothing, collars and cuffs 
just visible beyond the outer garments 
came into vogue, and a taste was speedily 
manifested for trimming linen under- 
shirts, collars and cuffs, with insertions 
and borders of kindred material. This 
taste seems to have been first displayed 
in a marked manner by Venetian and 
Flemish women ; for the earliest known 
books of engraved patterns for linen 
ornamental borders and insertions are 

those which were published during the 

227 



Of Lace, commencement of the sixteenth century 
at Venice and Antwerp. But such 
patterns were designed in the first place 
for various sorts of embroidery upon a 
material, such as darning upon canvas 
{punto fa su la rete a maglia quadra)^ 
drawn thread work of reticulated patterns 
(^punto tirato or funto a reticella)^ and 
cut work {punto t agitato). Patterns for 
quite other sorts of work, such as point 
in the air {punto in aere) and thread 
work twisted and plaited by means of 
little leaden weights or bobbins {merletti 
a piomhini)^ were about thirty years later 
in publication. These two last-named 
classes of work are respectively identi- 
fiable {punto in aere) with needlepoint 
and {merletti a piombini) with bobbin 
lace-making ; and they seem to date 
from about 1 540. 

The sixteenth - century and earliest 

known needlepoint laces {punto in aere) 
228 



are of narrow lengths or bands, the Of Lace, 
patterns of which are composed princi- 
pally of repeated open squares filled in 
with circular, star, and other geometric 
shapes, set upon diagonal and cross lines 
which radiate from the centre of each 
square to its corners and sides. When 
the bands were to serve as borders they 
would have a dentated edging added to 
them ; this edging might be made of 
either needlepoint or bobbin lace. As 
time went on the dimensions of both lace 
bands and lace Vandykes increased so that, 
whilst these served as trimmings to linen, 
lace of considerable width and various 
shapes came to be made, and rufFs, collars, 
and cufFs were wholly made of it. Such 
lace was thin and wiry in appearance. 
The leading lines of the patterns formed 
squares and geometrical figures, amongst 
which were disposed small wheel and 

seed forms, little triangles, and such like. 

229 



Of Lace. A few years later the details of these 
geometrically planned patterns became 
more varied, tiny human figures, fruits, 
vases and flowers, being used as orna- 
mental details. But a more distinct 
change in character of pattern was 
effected when flowing scrolls with leaf 
and blossom devices, held together by 
means of little ties or bars, were adopted. 
Different portions of the scrolls and 
blossoms with their connecting links 
or bars would often be enriched with 
little loops or picots^ with stitched reliefs, 
and varieties of close and open work. 
Then came a taste for arranging the bars 
or ties into trellis grounds, or grounds 
of hexagons, over which small ornamental 
devices would be scattered in balanced 
groups. At the same time, the bobbin 
or pillow lace-workers produced grounds 
of small equal -size meshes in plaited 

threads. This inventiveness on the part 
230 



of the bobbin or pillow workers reacted Of Lace, 
upon the needlepoint workers, who in 
their turn produced still more delicate 
grounds with meshes of single and double 
twisted threads. 

Lace, passing from stage to stage, 
thus became a filmy tissue or fabric, and 
its original use as a somewhat stiff, 
wiry-looking trimming to linen con- 
sequently changed. Larger articles than 
borders, collars, and cuffs were made of 
the new filmy material, and lace flounces, 
veils, loose sleeves, curtains, and bed- 
covers were produced. This transition 
may be traced through the first hundred 
and twenty years of lace-making. It 
culminated during the succeeding ninety 
years in a development of fanciful pattern- 
making, in which realistic representation 
of flowers, trees, cupids, warriors, sports- 
men, animals of the chase, emblems of all 

sorts, rococo and architectural ornament, 

231 



Of Lace, is typical. Whilst the eighteenth century 
may perhaps be regarded as a period of 
questionable propriety in the employ- 
ment of ornament hardly appropriate to 
the twisting, plaiting, and looping together 
of threads, it is nevertheless notable for 
tours de force in lace-making achieved 
without regard to cost or trouble. From 
this stage, the climax of which may be 
placed about 1760, the designing of lace 
patterns declined ; and from the end of 
the eighteenth to the first twenty years 
or so of the nineteenth centuries, laces, 
although still made with the needle and 
bobbins, became little more than finely- 
meshed nets powdered over with dots 
or leaves, or single blossoms, or tiny 
sprays. 

Within the limits of a brief note like 
the present, it is not possible to discuss 
local peculiarities in methods of work 

and styles of design which established 
232 



t 



the characters of the various Venetian Of Lace, 
and other Italian points, of the French 
points of Alen^on and Argentan, of the 
cloudy Valenciennes, Mechlin, and Brus- 
sels laces. Neither can one touch upon 
the nurturing of the industry by nuns in 
convents, by workers subsidised by State 
grants, and so forth. It would require 
more space than is available to fairly 
discuss what styles of ornament are least 
or most suited to lace -making ; or 
whether lace is less rightly employed as 
a tissue for the making of entire articles 
of costume or of household use, than as 
an ornamental accessory or trimming to 
costume. 

Whilst very much lace is a fantastic 
adjunct to costume, serving a purpose 
sometimes like that of appoggiature and 
fioriture in music, other lace, such as 
the carved-i vory-looking scrolls of Vene- 
tian raised points, which are principally 

233 



Of Lace, associated with the jabots and ruffles of 
kings, ministers, and marshals, and with 
the ornamentation of priests' vestments, 
is certainly more dignified in character. 
The loops, twists, and plaits of threads 
are more noticeable in laces of com- 
paratively small dimensions than they 
are in laces of great size. Size rather 
tempts the lace -worker to strive for 
ready effect, and to sacrifice the minute- 
ness and finish of hand work, which 
give quality of preciousness to lace. The 
via media to this quality lies between 
two extremes; namely, applying dainty 
threads to the interpretation of badly 
shaped and ill-grouped forms on the one 
hand, and on the other hand adopting 
a style of ornament which depends upon 
largeness of detail and massiveness in 
grouping, and is therefore unsuited to 
lace. Without finish of handicraft, pro- 
ducing beautiful ornament suited to the 
234 



material in which it is expressed, lace Of Lace, 
worthy the name cannot be made. 

The industry is still pursued in 
France, Belgium, Venice, Austria, Bo- 
hemia, and Ireland. Honiton has ac- 
quired a notoriety for its pillow laces, 
many of which some hundred years ago 
were as varied and well executed as 
Brussels pillow laces. Other English 
towns in the Midland counties followed 
the lead chiefly of Mechlin, Valenci- 
ennes, Lille, and Arras, but were rarely 
as successful as their leaders. Saxony, 
Russia, and the Auvergne produce 
quantities of pillow laces, having little 
pretence to design, though capable of 
pretty effects when artistically worn. 
There is no question that the want of 
a sustained intelligence in appreciat- 
ing ingenious hand-made laces has told 
severely upon the industry ; and as 
with other artistic handicrafts, so with 

235 



Of Lace, lace-making, machinery has very con- 
siderably supplanted the hand. There 
is at present a limited revival in the 
demand for hand-made laces, and efforts 
are made at certain centres to give 
new life to the industry by infusing 
into it artistic feeling derived from a 
study of work done during the periods 
when the art flourished. 

Alan S. Cole. 



236 



OF BOOK ILLUSTRATION 

AND BOOK DECORATION 

D OOK illustration is supposed to have 
•■-^ made a great advance in the last 
few years. No doubt it has, but this 
advance has not been made on any 
definite principle, but, as it were, in and 
out of a network of cross- purposes. No 
attempt has been made to classify 
illustration in relation to the purpose it 
has to fulfil. 

Broadly speaking, this purpose is 
threefold. It is either utilitarian, or 
partly utilitarian partly artistic, or purely 
artistic. The first may be dismissed at 

237 



Of Book once. Such drawings as technical dia- 

Illustration prrams must be clear and accurate, but by 

and Book ° . , ' . / 

Decoration. ^"^^^ ^^^V ^^^ure they are non-artistic, 

and in regard to art it is a case of 
** hands off" to the draughtsman. 

Illustration as an art, that is, book 
decoration, begins with the second class. 
From this standpoint an illustration 
involves something more than mere 
drawing. In the first place, the draw- 
ing must illustrate the subject, but as 
the drawing will not be set in a plain 
mount, but surrounded or bordered by 
printed type, there is the further problem 
of the relation of the drawing to the 
printed type. The relative importance 
attached to the printed type or the draw- 
ing is the crucial point for the illustrator. 
If all his thoughts are concentrated on 
his own drawing, one line to him will be 
much as another ; but if he considers his 

illustration as going with the type to 
238 



form one homogeneous design, each line Of Book 
becomes a matter of deliberate intention, illustration 

• 1 r • ' ^^^ Book 

Now, m the early days of prmtmg, Decoration, 
when both type and illustration were 
printed off a single block, the latter 
standpoint was adopted as a matter of 
course, and as the art developed and 
men of genuine ability applied them- 
selves to design, this intimate relation 
between printer and designer produced 
results of inimitable beauty. Each page . 

of a fine Aldine is a work of art in itself. 
The eye can run over page after page 
for the simple pleasure of its decoration. 
No black blots in a sea of ignoble type 
break the quiet dignity of the page ; 
each part of it works together with the 
rest for one premeditated harmony. 
But gradually, with the severance of the 
arts, the printer lost sight of the artist, 
and the latter cared only for himself; 
and there came the inevitable result 

239 



Of Book which has followed this selfishness in 
Illustration ^|| ^j^^ ^^^^^ ^^^^ ^f ^-^^ Printing 

and Book , ^ ,, i , % 

Decoration, ceased to be an art at all, and the art of 

book decoration died of neglect ; the 
illustrator made his drawing without 
thought of the type, and left it to the 
printer to pitch it into the text, and 
reproduce it as best he could. 

The low-water mark in artistic illus- 
tration was reached perhaps in the early- 
part of this century, and the greatest 
offender was Turner himself. The illus- 
trations which Turner made for Rogers's 
Poems show no sort of modification of 
his habitual practice in painting. They 
may have been beautiful in themselves, 
but it evidently never entered into 
Turner's head that the method, which 
was admirable in a picture aided by all 
the resources of colour, was beside the 
mark when applied to the printed page 

with all the limitations of black and 
240 



white and the simple line. One looks Of Book 
in vain in Turner's illustrations for any ^lustration 
evidence that he was conscious of the Decoration, 
existence of the rest of the page at all. 
Something more than a landscape 
painter's knowledge of drawing is neces- 
sary. The custom of getting illus- 
trations from painters who have little 
knowledge of decorative design has led 
to the invention of all sorts of mechanical 
processes in order to transfer easel-work r 

direct to the printed page. The effect 
of this upon book decoration has been 
deadly. Process-work of this sort has 
gone far to kill wood-engraving ; and 
as to its result, instead of a uniform 
texture of line woven as it were over the 
entire page, the eye is arrested by harsh 
patches of black or gray which show a 
disregard of the printed type which is 
little less than brutal. Leaving recent 

work out of account, one exception only 
R 241 



Of Book can be made, and that is in the case of 
Illustration William Blake. 

and Book . 

Decoration. The mherent conditions of book 
decoration point to the line drawn by 
hand, and reproduced, either by wood- 
engraving or by direct facsimile process, 
as its proper method. Indeed, the ideal 
of paginal beauty would be reached by 
leaving both the text and the illustrative 
design to hand, if not to one hand. 
This, however, is out of the question ; 
the cost alone is prohibitive. The point 
for the book -decorator to consider is, 
what sort of line will range best with the 
type. In the case of the second division 
of our classification, which, in default of 
a better name, may be called "record 
work," it is impossible to apply to the line 
the amount of abstraction and selection 
which would be necessary in pure design. 
To do so, for instance, in the case of an 

architectural illustration, would destroy 
242 



the " vraisemblance " which is of the Of Book 
essence of such a drawing. Even in this Illustration 
case, however, the line ought to be very Decoration, 
carefully considered. It is important to 
recollect that the type establishes a sort 
of scale of its own, and, taking ordinary 
lettering, this would exclude very minute 
work where the lines are close together 
and there is much cross-hatching ; and 
also simple outline work such as Retsch 
used to labour at, for the latter errs on 
the side of tenuity and meagreness as 
much as process-reproduction of brush- 
work sins in the opposite extreme. The 
line used in architectural illustration 
should be free, accurate, and unfaltering, 
drawn with sufficient technical knowledge 
of architecture to enable the draughtsman 
to know where he can stop without injury 
to his subject. The line should not be 
obstinate, but so light and subtle as to 
reflect without effort each thought that 

243 



Of Book flits across the artist's mind. Vierge has 
Illustration ghown how much can be done in this 
Decoration "^^y* With a few free lines and the 
contrast of some dark piece of shading in 
exactly the right place, he will often tell 
you more of a subject than will the most 
elaborately finished picture. This is the 
method to aim at in architectural illus- 
tration. The poetry of architecture and 
its highest qualities of dignity of mass 
and outline are smothered by that 
laborious accuracy which covers every 
part of the drawing with a vain repetition 
of unfeeling lines. 

Where, however, the illustration is 
purely imaginative, the decorative stand- 
point should be kept steadily in view, and 
the process of selection and abstraction 
carried very much farther. Here, at 
length, the illustrator can so order his 
design that the drawing and the printed 

type form a single piece of decoration, 
244 



not disregarding the type, but using it as Of Book 
in itself a means of obtaining texture and ^lustration 

1 rr rr-^i • ^'^^ Book 

scale and distributed eftect. The type is, Decoration, 
as it were, the technical datum of the 
design, which determines the scale of the 
line to be used with it. With a wiry 
type no doubt a wiry drawing is desir- 
able, but the types of the great periods 
of printing are firm in outline and large 
and ample in distribution. Assuming, 
then, that one of these types can be used, . 

the line of the accompanying design 
should be strongly drawn, and designed 
from end to end with full allowance for 
the white paper. No better model can 
be followed than Diirer's woodcuts. 
The amount of work which Diirer would 
get out of a single line is something extra- 
ordinary, and perhaps to us impossible ; 
for in view of our complex modern 
ideas and total absence of tradition, prob- 
ably no modern designer can hope to 

245 



Of Book attain to the great German's magnificent 

Illustration directness and tremendous intensity of 

and Book 

Decoration, expression. 

Deliberate selection, both in subject 
and treatment, becomes therefore a 
matter of the first importance. The 
designer should reject subjects which 
do not admit of a decorative treat- 
ment. His business is not with science, 
or morals, but with art for its own 
sake ; he should, therefore, select his 
subject with a single eye to its artistic 
possibilities. As to the line itself, it is 
impossible to offer any suggestion, for 
the line used is as much a part of the 
designer's idea as the words of a poem 
are of a poet's poetry ; and the invention 
of these must come of itself. But once 
in consciousness, the line must be put 
under rigid control as simply a means of 
expression. There is an insidious danger 

in the line. Designers sometimes seem 
246 



to be inebriated with their own cunning ; Of Book 
they go on drawing line after line. Illustration 
apparently for the simple pleasure of Decoration, 
deftly placing them side by side, or at 
best to produce some spurious imitation 
of texture. As soon as the line is made 
an end in itself, it becomes a wearisome 
thing. The use of the line and the 
imitation of texture should be absolutely 
subordinated to the decorative purposes 
of the design, and the neglect of this rule 
is as bad art as if a musician, from 
perverse delight in the intricacies of a 
fugue, were to lose his theme in a chaos 
of counterpoint. 

If, then, to conclude, we are to return 
to the best traditions of book decoration, 
the artist must abandon the selfish 
isolation in which he has hitherto worked. 
He must regard the printed type not 
as a necessary evil, but as a valuable 

material for the decoration of the page, 

247 



Of Book and the type and the illustration should 

Illustration j^^ considered in strict relation to each 
and Book 
Decoration. Other. This will involve a self-restraint 

far more rigid than any required in 
etching, because the point to be aimed at 
is not so much the direct suggestion of 
nature, as the best decorative treatment 
of the line in relation to the entire page. 
Thus, to the skill of the draughtsman 
must be added the far-seeing imagination 
of the designer, which, instead of being 
content with a hole-and-corner success, 
involving disgrace to the rest of the page, 
embraces in its consciousness all the 
materials available for the beautification 
of the page as a whole. It is only by 
this severe intellectual effort, by this self- 
abnegation, by this ready acceptance of 
the union of the arts, that the art of 
book illustration can again attain to a 
permanent value. 

Reginald Blomfield. 
248 



OF DESIGNS 
AND WORKING DRAWINGS 

npHE drawings which most deeply 

^ interest the workman are working 

drawings — -just the last to be appreciated 

by the public, because they are the last 

to be understood. The most admired 

of show drawings are to us craftsmen 

comparatively without interest. We 

recognise the " competition " drawing at 

once ; we see how it was made in order 

to secure the commission, not with a 

view to its effect in execution (which is 

the true and only end of a design), and 

we do not wonder at the failure of 

249 



Of Designs competitions in general. For the man 
and ^j^Q j,^j.gg least, if even he knows at all, 
Working ,,..,, . . . 

Drawings. "^^ ^ design Will appear in execution is 

the most likely to perpetrate a pretti- 
ness which may gain the favour of the 
inexpert, with whom the selection is 
likely to rest. 

The general public, and all in fact 
who are technically ignorant on the 
subject, need to be warned that the most 
attractive and what are called ''taking" 
drawings are just those which are least 
likely to be designs — still less bond fide 
working drawings. The real workman 
has not the time, even if he had the 
inclination, to " finish up " his drawings 
to the point that is generally considered 
pleasing ; the inventive spirit has not the 
patience. We have each of us the fail- 
ings complementary to our faculties, and 
vice versa ; and you will usually find — 

certainly it is my experience — that the 
250 



makers of very elaborately finished draw- Of Designs 

ings seldom do anything: but what we 
ur u r ju r forking 

have often seen before ; and that men of Drawings. 

any individuality, actual designers that 

is to say, have a way of considering 

a drawing finished as soon as ever it 

expresses what they mean. 

You may take it, then, as a general 
rule that highly finished and elaborate 
drawings are got up for show, " finished 
for exhibition " as they say (in compliance 
with the supposed requirements of an 
exhibition rather than with a view to 
practical purposes), and that drawings 
completed only so far as is necessary, 
precise in their details, disfigured by 
notes in writing, sections, and so on, are 
at least genuine workaday designs. 

If you ask what a design should be 
like — well, like a design. It is altogether 
a different thing from a picture ; it is 
almost the reverse of it. Practically no 

251 



Of Designs man has, as I said, the leisure, even if 
^^/^,^. he had the ability, to make an effective 

Working r • ^ ^ ' 

Drawings. "Wished picture of a thing yet to be 
carried out — perhaps not to be carried 
out. This last is a most serious con- 
sideration for him, and may have a sad 
effect upon his work. The artist who 
could afford thus to give himself away 
gratis would certainly not do so ; the 
man who might be willing to do it 
could not ; for if he has " got no work 
to do" — that is at least presumptive 
evidence that he is not precisely a master 
of his craft. 

The design that looks like a picture 
is likely to be at best a reminiscence of 
something done before ; and the more 
often it has been done the more likely it 
' is to be pictorially successful — and by 
so much the less is it, strictly speaking, a 
design. 

This applies especially to designs on a 
252 



Working 
Drawings. 



small scale, such as are usually submitted Of Designs 

to catch the rare commission. To ^^^ 

imitate in a full-sized cartoon the texture 

of material, the casualty of reflected 

light, and other such accidents of efl^ect, is 

sheer nonsense, and no practical workman 

would think of such a thing. A painter 

put to the uncongenial task of decorative 

design might be excused for attempting 

to make his productions pass muster by 

workmanship excellent in itself, although 

not in the least to the point : one does 

what one can, or what one must ; and if 

a man has a faculty he needs must show 

it. Only, the perfection of painting will 

not, for all that, make design. 

In the first small sketch-design, every- 
thing need not of course be expressed ; 
but it should be indicated — for the pur- 
pose is simply to explain the scheme pro- 
posed : so much of pictorial representation 

as may be necessary to that is desirable, 

253 



Of Designs and no more. It should be in the nature 
, of a diagram, specific enough to illustrate 

Drawings. ^^^ ^^^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^^ ^^ ^^ ^^ worked 
out. It ought by strict rights to commit 
one definitely to a certain method of exe- 
cution, as a written specification would ; 
and may often with advantage be helped 
out by written notes, which explain 
more definitely than any pictorial render- 
ing just how this is to be wrought, that 
cast, the other chased, and so on, as the 
case may be. 

Whatever the method of expression the 
artist may adopt, he should be perfectly 
clear in his own mind how his design is 
to be worked out ; and he ought to make 
it clear also to any one with sufficient 
technical knowledge to understand a 
drawing. 

In the first sketch for a window, for 
example, he need not show every lead 
and every piece of glass ; but there 
254 



should be no possible mistake as to how Of Designs 
it is to be glazed, or which is " painted " ^^^_ 
glass and which is " mosaic." To omit Dj-awines 
the necessary bars in a sketch for glass 
seems to me a weak concession to the 
prejudice of the public. One may have 
to concede such points sometimes ; but 
the concession is due less to necessity 
than to the — what shall we call it ? — not 
perhaps exactly the cowardice, but at all 
events the timidity, of the artist. 

In a full -sized working drawing or 
cartoon everything material to the design 
should be expressed, and that as definitely 
as possible. In a cartoon for glass (to 
take again the same example) every lead- 
line should be shown, as well as the saddle 
bars ; to omit them is about as excusable 
as it would be to leave out the sections 
from a design for cabinet work. It is 
contended sometimes that such details 
are not necessary, that the artist can 

255 



Of Designs bear all that in mind. Doubtless he can, 

^^^_ more or less ; but I am inclined to believe 
Working i • i 7 

Drawings "^^^^ Strongly m the less. At any rate 

he will much more certainly have them 
in view whilst he keeps them visibly before 
his eyes. One thing that deters him is 
the fear of offending the client, who will 
not believe, when he sees leads and bars 
in a drawing, how little they are likely 
to assert themselves in the glass. 

Very much the same thing applies to 
designs and working drawings generally. 
A thorough craftsman never suggests a 
form or colour without realising in his 
own mind how he will be able to get 
such form or colour in the actual work ; 
and in his working drawing he explains 
that fully, making allowance even for 
some not impossible dulness of appre- 
hension on the part of the executant. 
Thus, if a pattern is to be woven he 

indicates the cards to be employed, he 
256 



arranges what parts are " single," what Of Designs 
"double," as the weavers call it, what ^^^ 
changes in the shuttle are proposed, and Drawings. 
by the crossing of which threads certain 
intermediate tints are to be obtained. 

Or again, if the design is for wall- 
paper printing, he arranges not only for 
the blocks, but the order in which they 
shall be printed ; and provides for 
possible printing in " flock," or for the 
printing of one transparent colour over » 

another, so as to get more colours than 
there are blocks used, and so on. 

In either case, too, he shows quite 
plainly the limits of each colour, not so 
much seeking the softness of effect which 
is his ultimate aim, as the precision which* 
will enable the block or card cutter to 
see at a glance what he means, — even 
at the risk of a certain hardness in his 
drawing ; for the drawing is in itself of 

no account ; it is only the means to an 

s 257 



Of Designs end ; and his end is the stuff, the paper, 
and Qj, -y^hatever it may be, in execution. 

Drawings. -^ workman intent on his design will 
sacrifice his drawing to it — harden it, as 
I said, for the sake of emphasis, annotate 
it, patch it, cut it up into pieces to prove 
it, if need be do anything to make his 
meaning clear to the workman who comes 
after him. It is as a rule only the dilet- 
tante who is dainty about preserving his 
drawings. 

To an artist very much in repute there 
may be some temptation to be careful of 
his designs, and to elaborate them (him- 
self, or by the hands of his assistants), 
because, so finished, they have a com- 
mercial value as drawings — but this is at 
best pot-boiling ; and the only men who 
are subject to this temptation are just 
those who might be proof against it. 
Men of such rank that even their work- 
ing drawings are in demand have no very 
258 



urgent need to work for the pot ; and Of Designs 
the working drawings of men to whom ^^^ 

^^orkin.£ 

pounds and shillings must needs be a j)i.a^ines 
real consideration are not sought after. 

In the case of very smart and highly 
finished drawings by comparatively un- 
known designers — of ninety-nine out of 
a hundred, that is to say, or nine hun- 
dred and ninety-nine out of a thousand 
perhaps — elaboration implies either that, 
having little to say, a man fills up his 
time in saying it at unnecessary length, 
or that he is working for exhibition. 

And why not work for exhibition ? it 
may be asked. There is a simple answer 
to that : The exhibition pitch is in much 
too high a key, and in the long run it 
will ruin the faculty of the workman who 
adopts it. 

It is only fair to admit that an ex- 
hibition of fragmentary and unfinished 
drawings, soiled, tattered, and torn, as 

259 



Of Designs they almost invariably come from the 
Trr . . workshop or factory, would make a very 

Working u- u u 

Drawings. P^^^ ^^^^^ — which may be an argument 

against exhibiting them at all. Cer- 
tainly it is a reason for mending, clean- 
ing, and mounting them, and putting 
them in some sort of frame (for what is 
not worth the pains of making present- 
able is not worth showing), but that is a 
very different thing from working designs 
up to picture pitch. 

When all is said, designs, if exhibited, 
appeal primarily to designers. We all 
want to see each other's work, and especi- 
ally each other's way of working ; but it 
should not be altogether uninteresting 
to the intelligent amateur to see what 
working drawings are, and to compare 
them with the kind of specious competi- 
tion drawings by which he is so apt to 

be misled. 

Lewis F. Day. 

260 



FURNITURE AND THE ROOM 

np HE art of furnishing runs on two 
* wheels — the room and the furni- 
ture. As in the bicycle, the inordinate 
development of one wheel at the expense 
of its colleague has been not without 
some great feats, yet too often has pro- 
voked catastrophe ; so ftirnishing makes 
safest progression when, with a juster 
proportion, its two wheels are kept to 
moderate and uniform diameters. The 
room should be for the furniture just as 
much as the furniture for the room. 
Of late it has not been so ; we have 

been indulging in the *' disproportionately 

261 



Furniture wheeled " type, and the result has been 

^^^ to crowd our rooms, and reduce them 
the Room. . . .^ t_, , . . 

to msignincance. rLven locomotion m 

them is often embarrassing, especially 

when the upholsterer has been allowed 

carte blanche. But, apart from this, 

there is a sense of repletion in these 

masses of chattel — miscellanies brought 

together with no subordination to each 

other, or to the effect of the room 

as a whole. Taken in the single piece, 

our furniture is sometimes not without 

its merit, but it is rarely exempt from 

self-assertion, or, to use a slang term, 

"fussiness." And an aggregation of 

" flissinesses " becomes fatiguing. One 

is betrayed into uncivilised longings for 

the workhouse, or even the convict's 

cell, the simplicity of bare boards and 

tables ! 

But we must not use our dictum for 

aggressive purposes merely, faulty as 
262 



modern systems may be. In the dis- Furniture 
tinction of the two sides of the problem ^^^ 
of furnishing — the room for the furni- 
ture, and the furniture for the room — 
there is some historical significance. 
Under these titles might be written 
respectively the first and last chapters 
in the history of this art — its rise and 
its decadence. 

Furniture in the embryonic state of 
chests, which held the possessions of 
early times, and served, as they moved 
from place to place, for tables, chairs, 
and wardrobes, may have been in exist- 
ence while the tents and sheds which 
accommodated them were of less value. 
But furnishing began with settled archi- 
tecture, when the room grew first into 
importance, and overshadowed its con- 
tents. The art of the builder had 
soared far beyond the ambitions of the 
furnisher. 

263 



Furniture Later, the two constituents of our art 
^"^ came to be produced simultaneously, 
and under one impulse of design. The 
room, whether church or hall, had now 
its specific furniture. In the former 
this was adapted for ritual, in the latter 
for feasting ; but in both the contents 
formed in idea an integral part of the 
interior in which they stood. And 
while these conditions endured, the art 
was in its palmy state. 

Later, furniture came to be considered 
apart from its position. It grew fanciful 
and fortuitous. The problem of fitting 
it to the room was no problem at all 
while both sprang from a common con- 
ception : it became so when its inde- 
pendent design, at first a foible of 
luxury, grew to be a necessity of pro- 
duction. As long, however, as archi- 
tecture remained dominant, and painting 

and sculpture were its acknowledged 
264 



vassals, furniture retained its legitimate Furniture 

position and shared in their triumphs. ^" 

. /^ the Room. 

But when these the elder sisters shook 

off their allegiance, furniture followed 
suit. It developed the self-assertion of 
which we have spoken, and, in the belief 
that it could stand alone, divorced itself 
from that support which was the final 
cause of its existence. There have been 
doubtless many slackenings and tighten- 
ings of the chain which links the arts of 
design together ; but it is to be noted 
how with each slackening furniture grew 
gorgeous and artificial, failed to sympa- 
thise with common needs, and sank 
slowly but surely into feebleness and 
insipidity. 

We had passed through some such 
cycle by the middle of this century. 
With the dissolution of old ties the 
majority of the decorative arts had 

perished. Painting remained to us, 

265 



Furniture arrogating to herself the role which 

, ^" hitherto the whole company had com- 

the Room. . . . _ 

Dined to make successful. In her 

struggle to fill the giant's robe, she has 
run unresistingly in the ruts of the age. 
She has crowded her portable canvases, 
side by side, into exhibitions and galleries, 
and claimed the title of art for literary 
rather than aesthetic suggestions. The 
minor coquetries of craftsmanship, from 
which once was nourished the burly 
strength of art, have felt out of place in 
such illustrious company. So we have 
the forced art of public display, but it 
has ceased to be the habit in which our 
common rooms and homely walls could 
be dressed. 

The attendant symptom has been the 
loss from our houses of all that archi- 
tectural amalgam, which in former times 
blended the structure with its contents, 

the screens and panellings, which, half 
266 



room, half furniture, cemented the one Furniture 

to the other. The eighteenth century ^^ 

^ . ^ •'the Room, 

carried on the tradition to a great extent 

with plinth and dado, cornice and en- 
crusted ceiling ; but by the middle of 
the nineteenth we had our interiors 
handed over to us by the architect 
almost completely void of architectural 
feature. We are asked to take as a 
substitute, what is naively called '' decor- 
ation," two coats of paint, and a veneer 
of machine-printed wall-papers. 

In this progress of obliteration an 
important factor has been the increasing 
brevity of our tenures. Three or four 
times in twenty years the outgoing 
tenant will make good his dilapidations, 
and the house-agent will put the premises 
into tenantable repair — as these things 
are settled for us by lawyers and sur- 
veyors. After a series of such processes, 

what can remain of internal architecture ? 

267 



Furniture Can there be left even a room worth 

and furnishing, in the true sense of the 
the Room. . ^, ^ , . 

termr ine first step to render it so 

must usually be the obliteration of as 
much as possible of the maimed and 
distorted construction, which our lease- 
hold house offers. 

What wonder, then, if furniture, be- 
ginning again to account herself an art, 
should have transgressed her limits and 
invaded the room ? Ceilings, walls and 
floors, chimneypieces, grates, doors and 
windows, all nowadays come into the 
hands of the artistic furnisher, and are at 
the mercy of upholsterers and cabinet- 
makers to begin with, and of the 
antiquity-collector to follow. Then we 
bring in our gardens, and finish ofF our 
drawing-room as a mixture of a con- 
servatory and a bric-a-brac shop. 

The fashion for archaeological mimicry 

has been another pitfall. The attempt 

268 



to bring back art by complete repro- Furniture 
ductions of old -day furnishings has ^^^ 
been much the vogue abroad. The 
Parisians distinguish many styles and 
aiFect to carry them out in every detail. 
The Americans have copied Paris, and 
we have done a little ourselves. But 
the weak element in all this is, that the 
occupier of these mediaeval or classic 
apartments remains still the nineteenth- 
century embodiment, which we meet in 
railway carriage and omnibus. We 
cannot be cultured Epicureans in a 
drawing-room of the Roman Empire, 
and by the opening of a door walk as 
Flemish Burgomasters into our libraries. 
The heart of the age will mould its 
productions irrespective of fashion or 
archaeology, and such miserable shams 
fail to reach it. 

If we, who live in this century, can at 

all ourselves appraise the position, its 

269 



Furniture most essential characteristic in its bearing 

*"^ upon art has been the commercial 

tendency. Thereby an indelible stamp 

is set upon our furniture. The making 

of it under the supreme condition of 

profitable sale has affected it in both its 

functions. On the side of utility our 

furniture has been shaped to the uses of 

the million, not of the individual. Hence 

its monotonously average character, its 

failure to become part of ourselves, 

its lack of personal and local charm. 

How should a "stock*' article possess 

either ? 

But the blight has fallen more cruelly 

on that other function, which is a 

necessity of human craftsmanship — the 

effort to express itself and please the eye 

by the expression. Art being the 

monopoly of "painting," and having 

nothing to do with such vulgar matters 

as furniture, commercialism has been able 
270 



to advance a standard of beauty of its own, Furniture 

with one canon, that of speedy profits. *"^ 
^ . , ; ^ ^ ^ . the Room. 

Furniture has become a mere ware m 

the market of fashion. Bought to-day 
as the rage, it is discarded to-morrow, 
and some new fancy purchased. The 
tradesman has a new margin of profit, 
but the customer is just where he was. 
It may be granted that a genuine neces- 
sity of sale is the stimulus to which all 
serious effort in the arts must look fon ? 

progress, and without which they would 
become faddism and conceit. But it is 
a different thing altogether when this 
passes from stimulus into motive — the 
exclusive motive of profit to the pro- 
ducer. The worth of the article is 
impaired as much as the well-being of 
the craftsman, and furniture is degraded 
to the position of a pawn in the game of 
the sweater. 

We must, I fear, be content at 

271 



the Room. 



Furniture present to put up with exhibitions 
^^"^ and unarchitectural rooms. But while 
making the best of these conditions, we 
need not acquiesce in them or maintain 
their permanence. At any rate we may 
fight a good fight with commercialism. 
The evils of heartless and unloving 
production, under the grind of an 
unnecessary greed, are patent enough to 
lead us to reflect that we have after all 
in these matters a choice. We need not 
spend our money on that which is not 
bread. We can go for our furniture to 
the individual craftsman and not the 
commercial firm. The penalty for so 
doing is no longer prohibitive. 

In closing our remarks we cannot do 
better than repeat our initial axiom — the 
art of furnishing lies with the room as 
much as with the furniture. The old 
ways are still the only ways. When we 

care for art sufficiently to summon her 

272 



from her state prison-house of exhibi- Furniture 

tions and galleries, to live again a free life ^^ 

° ' ° . the Room. 

among us in our homes, she will appear 
as a controlling force, using not only- 
painting and sculpture, but all the decora- 
tive arts to shape room and flirniture 
under one purpose of design. Whether 
we shall then give her the time-honoured 
title of architecture, or call her by another 
name, is of no moment. . . 

Edward S. Prior. * 



273 



OF THE ROOM 
AND FURNITURE 

npHE transient tenure that most of us 
* have in our dwellings, and the 
absorbing nature of the struggle that 
most of us have to make to win the 
necessary provisions of life, prevent our 
encouraging the manufacture of well- 
wrought furniture. 

We mean to outgrow our houses — 
our lease expires after so many years 
and then we shall want an entirely 
different class of furniture ; consequently 
we purchase articles that have only 

sufficient life in them to last the brief 
274 



period of our occupation, and are content Of the 

to abide by the want of appropriateness ^°°"^ ^^^ 
. , , . ^ . r Furniture. 

or beauty, in the clear intention or some 

day surrounding ourselves with objects 

that shall be joys to us for the remainder 

of our life. Another deterrent condition 

to making a serious outlay in furniture 

is the instability of fashion : each decade 

sees a new style, and the furniture that 

we have acquired in the exercise of our 

experienced taste will in all probability t 

be discarded by the impetuous purism of 

the succeeding generation. 

At present we are suffering from such 
a catholicity of taste as sees good in 
everything, and has an indifferent and 
tepid appreciation of all and sundry, 
especially if consecrated by age. 

This is mainly a reaction against the 
austerity of those moralists who preached 
the logic of construction, and who re- 
quired outward proof of the principles 

275 



Of the on which and by which each piece was 
Room and designed. 



Furniture. 



Another cause prejudicial to the 
growth of modern furniture is the 
canonisation of old. 

That tables and chairs should have 
lasted one hundred years is indeed proof 
that they were originally well made : that 
the conditions of the moment of their 
make were better than they are now is 
possible, and such aureole as is their 
due let us hasten to offer. But, to 
take advantage of their survival and 
to increase their number by facsimile 
reproduction is to paralyse all healthy 
growth of manufacture. 

As an answer to the needs and habits 

of our ancestors of one hundred years 

ago — both in construction and design — 

let them serve us as models showing the 

attitude of mind in which we should 

meet the problems of our day — and so 
276 



far as the needs and habits of the present Of the 

time are unchanged, as models of form, ^°°"^ ^^^ 
. J • 1 Furniture. 

not to be mcorporated with our ver- 
nacular, but which we should recognise 
as successful form, and discover the 
plastic secrets of its shape. 

With this possession we may borrow 
what forms we will — shapes of the Ind 
and far Cathay — the whole wide world 
is open to us — of past imaginations and 
of the dreams of our own. 

But without this master-key the 
copying is slavish, and the bondage of 
the task is both cruel and destructive. 

Cruel, because mindless, work can be 
reproduced more rapidly than thoughtful 
work can be invented, and the rate of 
production affects the price of other 
articles of similar kind, so that the one 
dictates what the other shall receive ; 
and destructive, because it treats the 

craftsman as a mere machine, whose 

277 



Of the only standard can be mechanical ex- 
Room and cellence. 

Now, all furniture that has any per- 
manent value has been designed and 
wrought to meet the ends it had to 
serve, and the careful elaboration of it 
gave its maker scope for his pleasure 
and occasion for his pride. 

If a man really likes what he has 
got to do, he will make great shifts to 
express and realise his pleasure ; he will 
choose carefully his materials, and either 
in playfulness of fancy, or in grave 
renunciation of the garniture of his art, 
will put the stamp of his individuality on 
his work. 

An example of living art in modern 

furniture is a costermonger's barrow. 

Affectionately put together, carved and 

painted, it expresses almost in words the 

pride and taste of its owner. 

As long as we are incapable of 
278 



recognising and sympathising with the Of the 
delight of the workman in the realisation ^^^^ and 
of his art, our admiration of his work is 
a pretence, and our encouragement of it 
blind — and this blindness makes us 
insensitive as to whether the delight is 
really there or no ; consequently our 
patronage will most often be disastrous 
rather than helpful. 

The value of furniture depends on 
the directness of its response to the 
requirements that called it into being, 
and to the nature of the conditions that 
evoked it. 

To obtain good furniture we must 
contrive that the conditions of its service 
are worthy conditions, and not merely 
the dictates of our fancy or our sloth. 

At the present moment modern furni- 
ture may be roughly divided into two 
classes : furniture for service, and fiirni- 

ture for display. Most of us, however, 

279 



Of the have to confine ourselves to the pos- 

Room and gggsion of Serviceable furniture only ; 
Furniture. r i • • r i • 

and a more rrank recognition or this 

limitation would assist us greatly in our 
selection. If only we kept our real 
needs steadily before us, how much more 
beauty we could import into our homes! 
Owing to lack of observation, and of 
experienced canons of taste, our fancies 
are caught by some chance object that 
pleases — one of that huge collection of 
ephemeral articles which " have been 
created to supply a want " that hitherto 
has never been felt — and as the cost of 
these fictions is (by the nature of the 
case) so low as to be of no great moment 
to us, the thing is purchased and helps 
henceforth to swell the museum of in- 
congruous accumulation that goes by 
the name of a *' furnished drawing- 
room." 

A fancy, so caught, is soon outworn, 
280 



Room and 
Furniture. 



but the precept of economy forbids the Of the 
discharge of the superfluous purchase, 
and so it adds its unit to the sum of daily 
labour spent on its preservation and its 
appearance. This burden of unnecessary 
toil is the index of the needlessness and 
cruelty with which we spend the labour 
of those whom need has put under our 
service. 

And the sum of money spent on these 
ill-considered acquisitions which have 
gone to swell the general total of distress, 
an ever-widening ring of bitter ripple, 
might, concentrated, have purchased some 
one thing, both beautiflil and useful, 
whose fashioning had been a pleasure to 
the artificer, and whose presence was an 
increasing delight to the owner and an 
added unit to this world's real wealth. 

Such indiscriminate collection defeats 
its own aim. Compare the way Giovanni 
Bellini fits up St. Jerome's study for 



2»I 



Room and 
Furniture. 



Of the him in the National Gallery. There is 
no stint of money evidently ; the Saint 
gets all that he can properly want, and 
he gets over and above — the addition 
born of his denial — the look of peace 
and calm in his room, that can so seldom 
be found with us. Another reason 
why our rooms are so glaringly over- 
furnished is, that many of us aim at 
a standard of profusion, in forgetflilness 
of the circumstances which created that 
standard. Families, whose descent has 
been historic, and whose home has been 
their pride, accumulate, in the lapse of 
time, heirlooms of many kinds — pictures, 
furniture, trinkets, etc. — and as these in- 
crease in numbers, the rooms in which 
they are contained become filled and 
crowded beyond what beauty or comfort 
permits, and such sacrifice is justly made 
for the demands of filial pride. 

This emotion is so conspicuously an 
282 



honourable one that we are all eager to Of the 

possess and give scope to our own, and ^°o"^ ^^^ 
^ , , ^ . , ' . Furniture. 

SO long as the scope is honest there is 

nothing more laudable. 

But the temptation is to add to our 
uninherited display in this particular by 
substitutes, and to surround ourselves 
with immemorable articles, the justifica- 
tion of whose presence really should be 
that they form part of the history of our 
lives in more important respects than the r 

mere occasions of their purchase. 

It is this unreasoning ambition that 

leads to the rivalling of princely houses 

by the acquisition of " family portraits 

purchased in Wardour Street" — the 

rivalling of historic libraries by the 

purchase of thousands of books to form 

our yesterday's libraries of undisturbed 

volumes — the rivalling of memorable 

chairs and tables, by recently bought 

articles of our own, crowded in imitation 

283 



Of the of our model with innumerable trifles, 

Room and ^q ^}^g infinite tax of our space, our 
Furniture. . , 

patience, and our purse. 

Our want of care and restraint in the 
selection of our furniture affects both its 
design and manufacture. 

Constantly articles are bought for 
temporary use — we postponing the re- 
sponsibility of wise purchase until we 
have more time, or else we buy what is 
not precisely what we want but which 
must do, since we cannot wait to have the 
exact things made, and have not the time 
to search elsewhere for them. 

Furniture, in response to this demand, 

must be made either so striking as to 

arrest the eye, or so variedly serviceable 

as to meet some considerable proportion 

of the conflicting requirements made on 

it by the chance intending purchaser, or 

else it must fall back on the impregnable 

basis of antiquity and silence all argument 
284 



with the canon that what the late Mr. Of the 

Chippendale did was bound to be " good Room and 
„ , Furniture. 

taste. 

"There should be a place for every- 
thing, and everything in its place." Very 
true. But in the exercise of our orderli- 
ness we require the hearty co-operation 
of the ** place " itself. 'Tis a wonderful 
aid when the place fits the object it is 
intended to contain. 

Take the common male chest of 
drawers as a case in point. Its function 
is to hold a man's shirts and his clothes, 
articles of a known and constant size. 
Why are the drawers not made propor- 
tionate for their duty ^ Why are they 
so few and so deep that when filled — as 
they needs must be — they are uneasy to 
draw out, and to obtain the particular 
article of which we are in quest, and 
which of course is at the bottom, we 

must burrow into the heavy super- 

285 



Room and 
Furniture. 



Of the incumbent mass of clothes in our search, 
and — that successful — spend a weary- 
while in contriving to repack the ill- 
disposed space. It can hardly be economy 
of labour and material that dictates this, 
for — if so — why is the usual hanging 
wardrobe made so preposterously too 
tall ^ Does the idiot maker suppose that 
a woman's dress is hung all in one piece, 
body and skirt, from the nape of the 
neck, to trail its extremest length ? 

The art of buying furniture, or having 
it made for us, is to be acquired only by 
study and pains, and we must either 
pursue the necessary education, or depute 
the furnishing of our rooms to competent 
hands : and the responsibility does not 
end here, for there is the duty of dis- 
covering who are competent, and this 
must be done indirectly since direct 
inquiry only elicits the one criterion, 

omnipotent, omnipresent, of cost. 
286 



The object to be gained in furnishing Of the 
a room is to supply the just requirements ^^^^ ^^'^ 
of the occupants, to accentuate or further 
the character of the room, and to indi- 
cate the individual habits and tastes of 
the owner. 

Each piece should be beautiful in 
itself, and, still more important, should 
minister to and increase the beauty of the 
others. Collective beauty is to be aimed 
at ; not so much individual. 

Proportion is another essential. Not 
that the proportions of furniture should 
vary with the size of the rooms : the 
dimensions of chairs, height of tables, 
sizes of doors, have long been all fixed 
and, having direct reference to the human 
body, are immutable. 

Substantially, the size of man's body is 

the same and has been the same from the 

dawn of history until now, and will be 

the same whether in a cottage parlour or 

287 



Of the the Albert Hall. But there is a propor- 

Room and ^-^j^ -j^ ^^^ relations of the spaces of a 
Furniture. . ^ . ... , 

room to Its furniture which must be 

secured. If this is not done, no indivi- 
dual beauty of the objects in the room 
will repair the lost harmony or be com- 
pensation for the picture that might have 
been. 

A museum of beautiful objects has its 
educational value, but no one pretends 
that it claims to be more than a storehouse 
of beauty. 

The painter who crowds his canvas with 
the innumerable spots of colour that can 
be squeezed out of euery tube of beau- 
tiful paint that the colourman sells, is 
no nearer his goal than he who fills his 
rooms with a heterogeneous miscellany of 
articles swept together from every clime 

and of every age. 

Halsey Ricardo. 

288 



THE ENGLISH TRADITION 

T^HE sense of a consecutive tradition 
^ has so completely faded out of 
English art that it has become difficult 
to realise the meaning of tradition, or 
the possibility of its ever again reviving ; 
and this state of things is not improved 
by the fact that it is due to uncertainty 
of purpose, and not to any burning 
fever of individualism. Tradition in 
art is a matter of environment, of in- 
tellectual atmosphere. As the result of 
many generations of work along one 
continuous line, there has accumulated a 

certain amount of ability in design and 
u 289 



The English manual dexterity, certain ideas are in 
Tradition, ^^iq air, certain ways of doing things 
come to be recognised as the right ways. 
To all this endowment an artist born in 
any of the living ages of art succeeded 
as a matter of course, and it is the 
absence of this inherited knowledge that 
places the modern craftsman under 
exceptional disabilities. 

There is evidence to prove the exist- 
ence in England of hereditary crafts 
in which the son succeeded the father 
for generations, and to show that the 
guilds were rather the guardians of high 
traditional skill than mere trades unions ; 
but there is surer proof of a common 
thread of tradition in certain qualities 
all along the line, which gave to English 
work a character peculiar to itself. 
Instances of genuine Gothic flirniture 
are rare ; in England at any rate it was 

usually simple and solid, sufficient to 
290 



answer the needs of an age without any The English 
highly developed sense of the luxuries Tradition. 
of life. It is not till the Renaissance 
that much material can be found for a 
history of English furniture. Much of 
the motif of this work came from Italy 
and the Netherlands ; indeed cabinet 
work was imported largely from the 
latter country. It was just here, how- 
ever, that tradition stepped in, and gave 
to our sixteenth and seventeenth century ? 

fiirniture a distinctly national character. 
The delicate mouldings, the skilfiil 
turnings, the quiet inlays of ebony, 
ivory, cherry wood, and walnut, above 
all the breadth and sobriety of its design, 
point to a tradition of craftsmanship 
strong enough to assimilate all the ideas 
which it borrowed from other ages and 
other countries. Contrast, for instance, 
a piece of Tottenham Court Road mar- 
quetry with the mother-of-pearl and 

291 



The English ebony inlay on an English cabinet at 
Tradition, gouth Kensington. So far as mere skill 
in cutting goes there may be no great 
difference between the two, but the 
latter is charming, and the former tedious 
in the last degree ; and the reason is 
that in the seventeenth century the 
craftsman loved his work, and was 
master of it. He started with an idea 
in his head, and used his material with 
meaning, and so his inlay is as fanciful 
as the seaweed, and yet entirely sub- 
ordinated to the harmony of the whole 
design. Perhaps some of the best 
furniture work ever done in England 
was done between 1600 and 1660. I 
refer, of course, to the good examples, 
to work which depended for its effect 
on refined design and delicate detail, not 
to the bulbous legs and coarse carving 
of ordinary Elizabethan, though even 

this had a naivete and spontaneity 
292 



entirely lacking in modern reproduc- The English 

tions. Tradition. 

After the Restoration, signs of French 
influence appear in English furniture, 
but the tradition of structural fitness 
and dignity of design was preserved 
through the great architectural age of 
Wren and Gibbs, and lasted till the 
latter half of the eighteenth century. If 
that century was not particularly inspired, 
it at least understood consummate work- 
manship. The average of technical skill 
in the handicrafts was far in advance of 
the ordinary trade work of the present 
day. Some curious evidences of the 
activity prevailing in what are called 
the minor arts may be found in The 
Laboratory and School of Arts^ a small 
octavo volume published in 1738. The 
work of this period furnishes a standing 
instance of the value of tradition. By 

the beginning of the eighteenth century a 

293 



The English school of carvers had grown up in Eng- 
Tradition. |^j^j ^^^ could carve, with absolute 
precision and without mechanical aids, 
all such ornament as egg and tongue 
work, or the acanthus, and other con- 
ventional foliage used for the decoration 
of the mouldings of doors, mantelpieces, 
and the like. Grinling Gibbons is 
usually named as the founder of this 
school, but Gibbons was himself trained 
by such men as Wren and Gibbs, and 
for the source from which this work 
derives the real stamp of style one must 
go back to the austere genius of Inigo 
Jones. The importance of the architect, 
in influencing craftsmen in all such mat- 
ters as this, cannot be overrated. He 
has, or ought to have, sufficient know- 
ledge of the crafts to settle for the 
craftsman the all -important points of 
scale and proportion to the rest of the 
design ; and this is just one of those 
294 



points in which contemporary archi- The English 
tecture, both as regards the education of Tradition, 
the architect and current practice, is 
exceedingly apt to fail. Sir William 
Chambers and the brothers Adam were 
the last of the architects before the 
cataclysm of the nineteenth century who 
made designs for furniture with any 
degree of skill. 

In the latter half of the eighteenth 
century occur the familiar names of 
Chippendale, Heppelwhite, and Sheraton, 
and if these excellent cabinetmakers did 
a tenth of the work with which the 
dealers credit them, they must each have 
had the hundred hands of Gyas. The 
rosewood furniture inlaid with arabesques 
in thin flat brass, and made by Gillow at 
the end of the last century, is perhaps 
the last genuine effort in English furni- 
ture, though the tradition of good work 
and simple design died very hard in old- 

295 



The English fashioned country places. The mischief 
Tradition, beg^n with the ridiculous mediaevalism 
of Horace Walpole, which substituted 
amateur fancy for craftsmanship, and led 
in the following century to the complete 
extinction of any tradition whatever. 
The heavy attempts at furniture in the 
Greek style which accompanied the 
architecture of Wilkins and Soane were 
as artificial as this literary Gothic, and 
the two resulted in the chaos of art 
which found its expression in the great 
Exhibition of 1 8 5 1 . 

Three great qualities stamped the 
English tradition in furniture so long as 
it was a living force — steadfastness of 
purpose, reserve in design, and thorough 
workmanship. Take any good period 
of English furniture, and one finds cer- 
tain well - recognised types consistently 
adhered to throughout the country. 

There is no difficulty in grasping their 
296 



general characteristics, whereas the very The English 
genius of classification could furnish no Tradition, 
clue to the labyrinth of nineteenth-cen- 
tury design. The men of these earlier 
times made no laborious search for quaint- 
ness, no disordered attempt to combine the 
peculiarities of a dozen different ages. 
One general type was adhered to because 
it was the legacy of generations, and 
there was no reason for departing from 
such an excellent model. The designers 
and the workmen had only to perfect 
what was already good ; they made no 
experiments in ornament, but used it 
with nice judgment, and full knowledge 
of its effect. The result was that, instead 
of being forced and unreasonable, their 
work was thoroughly happy ; one cannot 
think of it as better done than it is. 

The quality of reserve and sobriety is 
even more important. As compared 

with the later developments of the 

297 



The English Renaissance on the Continent, English 
Tradition, furniture was always distinguished by its 
simplicity and self-restraint. Yet it is 
this very quality which is most con- 
spicuously absent from modern work. 
As a people we rather pride ourselves on 
the resolute suppression of any florid 
display of feeling, but art in this country 
is so completely divorced from every- 
day existence, that it never seems to 
occur to an Englishman to import some 
of this fine insular quality into his daily 
surroundings. 

It has been reserved for this generation 
to part company with the tradition of 
finished workmanship. Good work of 
course can be done, but it is exceedingly 
difficult to find the workman, and the 
average is bad. We have nothing to 
take the place of the admirable crafts- 
manship of the last century, which in- 
cluded not only great manual skill, but 
298 



also an assured knowledge of the purpose The English 
of any given piece of furniture, of the Tradition. 
form best suited for it, and the exact 
strength of material necessary, a know- 
ledge which came of long familiarity 
with the difficulties of design and exe- 
cution, which never hesitated in its 
technique, which attained a rightness of 
method so complete as to seem inevitable. 
Craftsmanship of this order hardly exists 
nowadays. It is the result of tradition, , 

of the labour of many generations of 
cunning workmen. 

Lastly, as the complement of these 
lapses on the part of the craftsman, there 
has been a gradual decadence in the taste 
of the public. Science and mechanical 
ingenuity have gone far to destroy the 
art of the handicrafts. Art is a matter 
of the imagination, and of the skill of 
one's hands — but the pace nowadays is 

too much for it. Certainly from the 

299 



The English sixteenth to the eighteenth century a 
Tradition, well - educated English gentleman had 
some knowledge of the arts, and especi- 
ally of architecture ; the Earl of Burling- 
ton even designed important buildings, 
though not with remarkable success ; 
but at any rate educated people had 
some insight into the arts, whether 
inherited or acquired. Nowadays good 
education and breeding are no guarantee 
for anything of the sort, unless it is some 
miscellaneous knowledge of pictures. 
Few people, outside the artists, and not 
too many of them, give any serious 
attention to architecture and sculpture, 
and consequently an art such as furniture, 
which is based almost entirely upon 
these, is hardly recognised by the public 
as an art at all. How much the artist 
and his public react upon each other is 
shown by the plain fact that up to the 

last few years they have steadily marched 
300 



down hill together, and it is not very The English 

certain that they have yet begun to turn Tradition. 

the corner. That our English tradition 

was once a living thing is shown by the 

beautiful furniture, purely English in 

design and execution, still to be seen in 

great houses and museums, but it is not 

likely that such a tradition will spring 

up again till the artists try to make the 

unity of the arts a real thing, and the 

craftsman grows callous to fashion and 

archaeology, and the public resolutely 

turns its back on what is tawdry and 

silly. 

Reginald Blomfield. 



301 



CARPENTERS' FURNITURE 

TT requires a far search to gather up 
examples of furniture really represent- 
ative in this kind, and thus to gain a 
point of view for a prospect into the 
more ideal where furniture no longer 
is bought to look expensively useless 
in a boudoir, but serves everyday and 
commonplace need, such as must always 
be the wont, where most men work, and 
exchange in some sort life for life. 

The best present - day . example is 
the deal table in those last places to 
be vulgarised, farm-house or cottage 

kitchen. But in the Middle Ages things 
302 



as simply made as a kitchen table, mere Carpenters' 
carpenters' framings, were decorated to Furniture, 
the utmost stretch of the imagination 
by means simple and rude as their 
construction. Design, indeed, really fresh 
and penetrating, co-exists it seems only 
with simplest conditions. 

Simple, serviceable movables fall into 
few kinds : the box, cupboard, and table, 
the stool, bench, and chair. The box 
was once the most frequent, useful, , 

and beautiful of all these ; now it is 
never made as furniture. Often it was 
seat, coffer, and table in one, with 
chequers inlaid on the top for chess. 
There are a great number of chests 
in England as early as the thirteenth 
century. One type of construction, 
perhaps the earliest, is to clamp the 
wood -work together and beautifully 
decorate it by branching scrolls of iron- 
work. Another kind was ornamented 

303 



Carpenters' by a sort of butter -print patterning, 
Furniture. ^^^ -j^^^ ^j^^ wood in ingenious fillings 
to squares and circles, which you can 
imitate by drawing the intersecting 
lines the compasses seem to make of 
their own will in a circle, and cutting 
down each space to a shallow V. 
This simple carpenter's decoration is 
especially identified with chests. The 
same kind of work is still done 
in Iceland and Norway, the separate 
compartments often brightly painted 
into a mosaic of colour ; or patterns 
of simple scroll-work are made out 
in incised line and space. In Italy 
this charming art of incising was 
carried much farther in the cassoni, 
the fronts of which, broad planks of 
cypress wood, are often romantic with 
quite a tapestry of kings and ladies, 
beasts, birds, and foliage, cut in outline 
with a knife and punched with dots, 
304 



the cavities being filled with a coloured Carpenters' 
mastic like sealing-wax. Panelling, Furniture, 
rough inlaying in the solid, carving and 
painting, and casing with repousse or 
pierced metal, or covering with leather 
incised into designs, and making out 
patterns with nail-heads, were all methods 
of decoration used by the maker of 
boxes: other examples, and those not 
the least stately, had no other orna- 
ment than the purfling at the edges 
formed by ingeniously elaborate dove- 
tails fitting together like a puzzle and 
showing a pattern like an inlay. 

When people work naturally, it is 
as wearisome and unnecessary often to 
repeat the same design as to continually 
paint the same picture. Design comes 
by designing. On the one hand tradi- 
tion carefully and continuously shapes the 
object to fill its use, on the other spon- 
taneous and eager excursions are made 
X 305 



Carpenters' into the limitless fields of beautiful device. 

Furniture. Where construction and form are thus the 
result of a long tradition undisturbed by 
fashion, they are always absolutely right 
as to use and distinctive as to beauty, 
the construction being not only visible, 
but one with the decoration. Take a 
present-day survival, the large country 
cart, the body shaped like the waist of a 
sailing ship, and every rail and upright 
unalterably logical, and then decorated by 
quaint chamferings, the facets of which 
are made out in brightest paint. Or 
look at an old table, always with stretch- 
ing rails at the bottom and framed to- 
gether with strong tenons and cross pins 
into turned posts, but so thoughtfully 
done that every one is original and all 
beautiful. Turning, a delightful old art, 
half for convenience, half for beauty, 
itself comes down to us from long before 

the Conquest. 
306 



The great charm in furniture of the Carpenters' 
simplest structure may best be seen in old furniture, 
illuminated manuscripts, where a chest, a 
bench, and against the wall a cupboard, 
the top rising in steps where are set out 
tall " Venice glasses," or a " garnish " of 
plate under a tester of some bright stuff, 
make up a whole of fairy beauty in the 
frank simplicity of the forms and the 
innocent gaiety of bright colour. Take 
the St. Jerome in his study of Diirer 
or Bellini, and compare the dignity of 
serene and satisfying order with the most 
beautifully furnished room you know : 
how vulgar our good taste appears and 
how foreign to the end of culture — 
Peace. 

From records, and what remains to us, 
we know that the room, the hangings, and 
the furniture were patterned all over 
with scattered flowers and inscriptions — 
violets and the words " bonne pensee " ; 

307 



Carpenters' or vases of lilies and *' pax," angels 

Furniture, ^j^j incense pots, ciphers and initials, 

badges and devices, or whatever there 

be of suggestion and mystery. The 

panelling and furniture were " green like 

a curtain," as the old accounts have it ; 

or vermilion and white, like some painted 

chairs at Knole ; or even decorated with 

paintings and gilt gesso patterns like the 

Norfolk screens. Fancy a bed with 

the underside of the canopy having an 

Annunciation or spreading trellis of 

roses, and the chamber carved like one 

in thirteenth-century romance : — 

" N'a el monde beste n'oisel 
Qui n'i soit ovre a cisel." 

If we would know how far we are 
from the soul of art, we have but to 
remember that all this, the romance 
element in design, the joy in life, nature, 
and colour, which in one past develop- 
ment we call Gothic, and which is ever 
308 



the well of beauty undefiled, is not now Carpenters' 
so much impossible of attainment as Furniture, 
entirely out of range with our spirit and 
life, a felt anachronism and affectation. 

All art is sentiment embodied in form. 
To find beauty we must consider what 
really gives us pleasure — pleasure, not 
pride — and show our unashamed delight 
in it ; ^^ and so, when we have leisure to 
be happy and strength to be simple we 
shall find Art again" — the art of the 

workman. 

W. R. Lethaby. 



309 



OF DECORATED FURNITURE 

pvECORATED or ''sumptuous" fur- 

^^^ niture is not merely furniture 

that is expensive to buy, but that which 

has been elaborated with much thought, 

knowledge, and skill. Such furniture 

cannot be cheap, certainly, but the real 

cost of it is sometimes borne by the artist 

who produces rather than by the man 

who may happen to buy it. Furniture 

on which valuable labour is bestowed 

may consist of — i . Large standing objects 

which, though actually movable, are 

practically fixtures, such as cabinets, 

presses, sideboards of various kinds; 
310 



monumental objects. 2. Chairs, tables of Of 

convenient shapes, stands for lights and ^^^°^^^^°^ 

. Furniture. 

Other purposes, coiters, caskets, mirror 

and picture frames. 3. Numberless small 
convenient utensils. Here we can but 
notice class i, the large standing objects 
which most absorb the energies of artists 
of every degree and order in their 
construction or decoration. 

Cabinets seem to have been so named 
as being little strongholds — " offices " of 
men of business for stowing papers and 
documents in orderly receptacles. They 
are secured with the best locks procur- 
able. They often contain secret drawers 
and cavities, hidden from all eyes but 
those of the owner. Nor are instances 
wanting of owners leaving no information 
on these matters to their heirs, so that 
casual buyers sometimes come in for a 
windfall, or such a catastrophe as befell 
the owner of Richard the Third's bed. 

311 



Decorated 
Furniture. 



Of It is not to be expected that elaborate 

systems of secret drawers and hiding- 
places should be contrived in cabinets of 
our time. Money and jewels are con- 
sidered safer when deposited in banks. 
But, ingenuity of construction in a 
complicated piece of furniture must 
certainly be counted as one of its 
perfections. Sound and accurate joinery 
with well - seasoned woods, properly 
understood as to shrinkage and as to 
the relations between one kind of timber 
and another in these respects, is no 
small merit. 

Some old English cabinets are to be met 
with in the construction of which wood 
only is used, the morticing admirable, 
the boards, used to hold ends and 
divisions together from end to end, 
strained and secured by wedges that 
turn on pivots, etc. Furniture of this 

kind can be taken to pieces and set 
312 



Furniture. 



Up, resuming proper rigidity toties Of 
quoties. Decorated 

To look at the subject historically, 
it seems that the cabinet, dresser, or side- 
board is a chest set on legs, and that 
the "press," or cupboard (closet, not 
proper f^^-board), takes the place of the 
panelled recess closed by doors, generally 
contrived, and sometimes ingeniously 
hidden, in the construction of a panelled 
room. The front of the elevated chest 
is hinged, and flaps down, while the 
lid is a fixture ; the interior is more 
complicated than that of the chest, as 
its subdivisions are more conveniently 
reached. 

Before leaving this part of the subject, 
it is worth notice that the architectural, 
or rather architectonic, character seems 
to have deeply impressed the makers of 
cabinets when the chest-type had gradu- 
ally been lost. Italian, German, English, 

313 



Of and other cabinets are often found re- 



Decorated 
Furniture. 



presenting a church front or a house 
front, with columns, doors, sometimes 
ebony and ivory pavements, etc. 

Next as to methods of decorating 
cabinets, etc. The kind which deserves 
our first attention is that of sculpture. 
Here, undoubtedly, we must look to the 
Italians as our masters, and to that 
admirable school of wood-carving which 
maintained itself so long in Flanders, with 
an Italian grace grafted on the ingenuity, 
vigour, and playfulness of a northern race. 
Our English carvers, admirable crafts- 
men during the fifteenth and sixteenth 
centuries, seem to have been closely 
allied with the contemporary Flemings. 
Fronts of cabinets, dressers, chimney- 
pieces, etc., were imported from Belgium 
and were made up by English joiners 
with panelling, supplemented with carving 
where required, for our great houses. 
314 



Furniture. 



But the best Italian carving remains on Of 
chests and chest fronts which were made pecorated 
in great numbers in the sixteenth century. 

Some of these chests are toilet chests ; 
some have formed wall-seats, laid along 
the sides of halls and galleries to hold 
hangings, etc., when the house was 
empty, and have served as seats or as 
"monumental" pieces when company 
was received. 

As the chest grew into the cabinet, or 
bureau, or dresser, great attention was 
paid to the supports. It need hardly be 
pointed out that, for the support of seats, 
tables, etc., animals, typical of strength or 
other qualities — the lion or the sphinx, 
the horse, sometimes the slave — have been 
employed by long traditional usage. And 
carvers of wood have not failed to give 
full attention to the use and decoration 
of conventional supports to the furniture 
now under discussion. They are made 

315 



Of to unite the central mass to a shallow 



Decorated 
Furniture. 



base, leaving the remaining space open. 

Next to sculptured decoration comes 
incrusted. The most costly kinds of 
material, precious stones, such as lapis 
lazuli, agate, rare marbles, etc., have been 
employed on furniture surfaces. But 
such work is rather that of the lapidary 
than of the cabinetmaker. It is very 
costly, and seems to have been confined, 
in fact, to the factories kept up in Italy, 
Russia, and other states, at government 
expense. We do not produce them in 
this country ; and the number of such 
objects is probably limited wherever we 
look for them. 

Incrustation of precious woods is a 

more natural system of wood-decoration. 

Veneered wood, which is laid on a 

roughened surface with thin glue at 

immense pressure, if well made, is very 

long-lived. The woods used give a 
316 



coloured surface, and are polished so as Of 
to bring the colour fully out, and to I^ecorated 
protect the material from damp. In fine 
examples the veneers form little pictures, 
or patterns, either by the arrangement of 
the grain of the pieces used, so as to 
make pictorial lines by means of the 
grain itself, or by using woods of various 
colours. 

A very fine surface decoration was 
invented, or carried to perfection, by 
Andre Charles Boule, for Louis XIV. 
It is a veneer of tortoise-shell and brass, 
with occasional white metal. An im- 
portant element in Boule decoration is 
noticeable in the chiselled angle mounts, 
lines of moulding, claws, feet, etc., all of 
which are imposed, though they have 
the general character of metal angle 
supports. In fact, the tortoise-shell is 
held by glue, and the metal by fine nails 
of the same material, the heads of which 

317 



Of are filed down. Incrustation, or mar- 
Decorated quetry ^ of this kind is costly, and most 

Furniture. - . . , 111 r - 

or It IS due to the labours or artists 

and craftsmen employed by the kings 
of France at the expense of the Govern- 
ment. A considerable quantity of it is 
still made in that country. 

Now as to the way in which sculptors, 
or incrusters, should dispose of their 
decoration, and the fidelity to nature 
which is to be expected of them, whether 
in sculpture or wood mosaic, i.e. wood 
painting. First, we may suppose they 
will concentrate their more important 
details in recognisable divisions of their 
, pieces, or in such ways that a proportion 
and rhythm shall be expressed by their 
dispositions of masses and fine details ; 
placing their figures in central panels, 
on angles, or on dividing members ; 
leaving some plain surface to set off 

their decorative detail ; and taking care 
318 



that the contours of running mouldings Of 
shall not be lost sight of by the carver, decorated 
But how far is absolute natural truth, 
even absolute obedience to the laws of 
his art in every particular of his details, 
to be expected from the artist? We 
cannot doubt that such absolute obedience 
is sometimes departed from intentionally 
and with success. All Greek sculpture 
is not always absolutely true to nature 
nor as beautiful as the sculptor, if 
free, could have made it. Statues are 
conventionalised, decorative scrolls exag- 
gerated, figures turned into columns 
for good reasons, and in the result 
successfully. In furniture, as in archi- 
tecture, carved work or incrustation is 
not free^ but is in service ; and com- 
promises with verisimilitude to nature, 
even violence, may sometimes be required 
on details in the interests of the entire 
structure. 

319 



Of Next let a word or two be reserved 

Decorated f^j. pointed Furniture. Painting has 
been employed on furniture of all kinds 
at many periods. The ancients made 
theirs of bronze, or of ivory, carved or 
inlaid. In the Middle Ages wood-carving 
and many kinds of furniture were painted. 
The coronation chair at Westminster was 
so decorated. The chest fronts of Delli 
and other painters are often pictures of 
great intrinsic merit, and very generally 
these family chest fronts are valuable 
records of costumes and fashions of their 
day. In this country the practice of 
painting pianoforte cases, chair-backs, 
table-tops, panels of all sorts, has been 
much resorted to. Distinguished painters, 
Angelica KaufFmann and her contem- 
poraries, and a whole race of coach- 
painters have left monuments of their 
skill in this line. It must suffice here 

to recall certain modern examples, e.g. 
320 



a small dresser, now in the national Of 

collections, with doors painted by Mr. decorated 
T^ . , . . , / Furniture. 

Jroynter, with spirited figures represent- 
ing the Beers and the Wines ; the fine 
piano case painted by Mr. Burne-Jones ; 
another by Mr. Alma Tadema ; lastly, a 
tall clock-case by Mr. Stanhope, which, 
as well as other promising examples, 
have been exhibited by the Arts and 

Crafts Society. 

J. H. Pollen. 



321 



OF CARVING 

1 T is not uncommon to see an elaborate 

piece of furniture, in decorating 

which it is evident that the carver has 

had opportunity for the exercise of all 

his skill, and which, indeed, bears evidence 

of the most skilful woodcutting on almost 

every square inch of its surface, from 

the contemplation of which neither an 

artist nor an educated craftsman can 

derive any pleasure or satisfaction. This 

would seem to point to the designer of 

the ornament as the cause of failure, and 

the writer of this believes that in such 

cases it will generally be found that the 
322 



designer, though he may know every- Of Carving, 
thing that he ought to know about the 
production of designs which shall look 
well on paper or on a flat surface, has 
had no experience, by actually working 
at the material, of its difficulties, special 
capabilities, or limitations. 

If at the same time he has had but a 
limited experience of the difl^erence in 
treatment necessary for carving which is 
to be seen at various altitudes, his failure 
may be taken as sufficiently accounted 
for. 

An idea now prevalent that it is not 
advisable to make models for wood- 
carving is not by any means borne out 
by the experience of the writer of this 
paper. 

Models are certainly not necessary for 
ordinary work, such as mouldings, or 
even for work in panels when the surfaces 
are intended to be almost wholly on one 

323 



Of Carving, plane, but the carved decoration of a 
panel, which pretends to be in any degree 
a work of art, often depends for its effect 
quite as much on the masterly treatment 
of surface planes, and the relative pro- 
jection from the surface of the more 
prominent parts, as upon the outline. 
Now, there are many men who, though 
able to carve wood exquisitely, have 
never given themselves the trouble, or 
perhaps have scarcely had the opportunity, 
to learn how to read an ordinary drawing. 
The practice obtains in many carving 
shops for one or two leading men to 
rough out (viz, shape out roughly) all 
the work so far as that is practicable, and 
the others take it up after them and 
finish it. The followers are not neces- 
sarily less skilful carvers or cutters than 
the leaders, but have, presumably, less 
knowledge of form. If, then, one wishes 
to avail oneself of the skill of these men 
324 



for carrying out really important work, Of Carving. 

it is much the simpler way to make 

a model (however rough) which shall 

accurately express everything one wishes 

to see in the finished work ; and, assuming 

the designer to be fairly dexterous in the 

use of clay or other plastic material, a 

sketch model will not occupy any more 

of his time than a drawing would. 

To put it plainly, no designer can ever 
know what he ought to expect from a ^ 

worker in any material if he has not 
worked in that material himself. If he 
has carved marble, for instance, he knows 
the extreme care required in under- 
cutting the projecting parts of the design, 
and the cost entailed by the processes 
necessary to be employed for that purpose. 
He therefore so arranges the various 
parts of his design that wherever it is 
possible these projecting portions shall 
be supported by other forms, so avoiding 

325 



Of Carving, the labour and cost of relieving (or 

under-cutting) them ; and if he be skilful 

his skill will appear in the fact that his 

motive in this will be apparent only to 

experts, while to others the whole will 

appear to grow naturally out of the 

design. Moreover, he knows that he 

must depend for the success of this thing 

on an effect of breadth and dignity. He 

is not afraid of a somewhat elaborate 

surface treatment, being aware that nearly 

any variety of surface which he can 

readily produce in clay may be rendered 

in marble with a reasonable amount of 

trouble. 

In designing for the wood-carver he 

is on altogether different ground. He 

may safely lay aside some portion of his 

late dignity, and depend almost entirely 

on vigour of line ; the ease with which 

under-cutting is done in this material 

enabling him to obtain contrast by the 
326 



use of delicately relieved forms. Here, Of Carving. 

however, he must not allow the effect in 

his model to depend in any degree on 

surface treatment. Care in that respect 

will prevent disappointment in the finished 

work. 

The most noticeable feature in modern 
carved surface decoration is the almost 
universal tendency to overcrowding. It 
appears seldom to have occurred to the 
craftsman or designer that decorating a 
panel, for instance, is not at all the same 
thing as covering it with decoration. 
Still less does he seem to have felt that 
occasionally some portions of the ground 
are much more valuable in the design 
than anything which he can put on them. 
Indeed, the thoughtful designer who 
understands its use and appreciates its 
value, frequently has more trouble with 
his ground than with anything else in 
the panel. Also, if he have the true 

327 



Of Carving, decorative spirit, his mind is constantly 
on the general scheme surrounding his 
work, and he is always ready to subor- 
dinate himself and his work in order 
that it may enhance and not disturb this 
general scheme. 

We will suppose, for example, that he 
has to decorate a column with raised 
ornament. He feels at once that the 
outlines of that column are of infinitely 
more importance than anything which 
he can put on it, however ingenious or 
beautiful his design may be. He there- 
fore keeps his necessary projecting parts 
as small and low as possible, leaving as 
much of the column as he can showing 
between the lines of his pattern. By 
this means the idea of strength and 
support is not interfered with, and the 
tout ensemble is not destroyed. 

This may seem somewhat elementary 

to many who will read it. My excuse 

328 



must be that one sees many columns in Of Carving. 
which every vestige of the outline is so 
covered by the carving which has been 
built round them, that the idea of their 
supporting anything other than their 
ornament appears preposterous. 

There has been no opportunity to 
do more than glance at such a subject 
as this in a space so limited ; but the 
purposes of this paper will have been 
served if it has supplied a useful hint , 

to any craftsman, or if by its means 
any designer shall have been induced 
to make a more thorough study of the 
materials within his reach. 

Stephen Webb. 



329 



INTARSIA AND INLAID 
WOOD-WORK 

A LTHOUGH decoration by inlaying 
^ *■ woods of different colours must 
naturally have suggested itself in very 
early times, as soon indeed as there were 
workmen of skill sufficient for it, the 
history of this branch of art practically 
begins in the fifteenth century. It is 
eminently an Italian art, which according 
to Vasari had its origin in the days of 
Brunelleschi and Paolo Uccello ; and it 
had its birth in a land which has a 
greater variety of mild close-grained 
woods with a greater variety of colour 
330 



than Northern Europe. By the Italians Intarsia and 

it was regarded as a lower form of paint- ^^^^^°- 

T .? 11 • r 1 • 1 • • Wood -work, 

ing. Like all mosaic, of which art it is 

properly a branch, it has its limitations ; 
and it is only so long as it confines itself 
to these that it is a legitimate form of 
decoration. Tarsia is at the best one of 
the minor decorative arts, but when well 
employed it is one that gives an immense 
deal of pleasure, and one to which it 
cannot be denied that the buildings of 
Italy owe much of their splendour. 
Their polished and inlaid furniture 
harmonises with the rare delicacy of 
their marble and mosaic, and goes far 
towards producing that air of rich refine- 
ment and elaborate culture which is to 
the severer styles and simpler materials 
of the North what the velvet -robed 
Senator of St. Mark was to the mail-clad 
feudal chief from beyond the Alps. As 
to its durability, the experience of four 

331 



Intarsia and centuries sliice Vasari's time has proved 

Inlaid ^^^^ ^-^j^ ordinary care, or perhaps with 
Wood-work. ^ ^ 

nothing worse than mere neglect, Intarsia 

will last as long as painting. Its only- 
real enemy is damp, as will be readily 
understood from the nature of the 
materials and the mode of putting them 
together. For though in a few instances, 
when the art was in its infancy, the inlaid 
pattern may have been cut of a sub- 
stantial thickness and sunk into a solid 
ground ploughed out to receive it, this 
method was obviously very laborious, 
and admitted only of very simple design, 
for it is very difficult in this way to keep 
the lines of the drawing accurately. The 
recognised way of making Intarsia was, 
and is, to form both pattern and ground 
in thin veneers about ^ of an inch thick, 
which are glued down upon a solid 
panel. At first sight this method may 
appear too slight and unsubstantial for 
332 



work intended to last for centuries, but Intarsia and 
it has, in fact, stood the test of time ^^^^^^ 
extremely well, when the work has been 
kept in the dry even temperature of 
churches and great houses, where there 
is neither damp to melt the glue and 
swell the veneer, nor excessive heat to 
make the wood shrink and start asunder. 
When these conditions were not observed, 
of course the work was soon ruined, and 
Vasari tells an amusing story of the 
humiliation which befell Benedetto da 
Majano, who began his career as an 
Intarsiatore^ in the matter of two 
splendid chests which he had made for 
Matthias Corvinus, from which the 
veneers, loosened by the damp of a sea 
voyage, fell off in the royal presence. 

The veneers being so thin, it is of 
course easy to cut through several layers 
of them at once, and this suggested, or 
at all events lent itself admirably to the 



Intarsia and design of the earlier examples, which are 
Inlaid generally arabesques symmetrically dis- 
posed right and left of a central line. If 
two dark and two light veneers are put 
together, the whole of one panel, both 
ground and pattern, can be cut at one 
operation with a thin fret saw ; the 
ornamental pattern drops into the space 
cut out of the ground, which it, of 
course, fits exactly except for the thick- 
ness of the saw-cut, and the two half- 
patterns thus filled in are " handed " 
right and left, and so complete the 
symmetrical design. The line given 
by the thickness of the saw is then filled 
in with glue and black colour so as to 
define the outline, and additional saw- 
cuts are made or lines are engraved, and 
in either case filled in with the same 
stopping, wherever additional lines are 
wanted for the design. It only remains 
to glue the whole down to a solid panel, 
334 



and to polish and varnish the surface, Intarsia and 

and it is then ready to be framed into its „^ ^j^^'^ , 

Wood-work. 
place as the back of a church stall, or 

the lining of a courtly hall, library, or 

cabinet. 

It was thus that the simpler Italian 
Intarsia was done, such as that in the 
dado surrounding Perugino's Sala del 
Cambio in his native city, where the 
design consists of light arabesques in 
box or some similar wood on a walnut 
ground, defined by black lines just as I 
have described. 

But like all true artists the Intarsiatore 
did not stand still. Having successfully 
accomplished simple outline and accurate 
drawing, he was dissatisfied until he 
could carry his art farther by introducing 
the refinement of shading. This was 
done at different times and by different 
artists in a variety of ways ; either by 
inlaying the shadow in different kinds of 

335 



Intarsia and woods, by scorching it With fire, or by 
Inlaid staining it with chemical solutions. In 
' the book desks of the choir at the 
Certosa or Charterhouse of Pavia, the 
effect of shading is got in a direct but 
somewhat imperfect way by laying strips 
of different coloured woods side by side. 
Each flower or leaf was probably built 
up of tolerably thick pieces of wood 
glued together in position, so that they 
could be sliced off in veneers and yield 
several flowers or leaves from the same 
block, much in the way of Tunbridge 
Wells ware, though the Italian specimens 
are, I believe, always cut with the grain 
and not across it. The designs thus 
produced are very effective at a short 
distance, but the method is, of course, 
suitable only to bold and simple con- 
ventional patterns. 

The panels of the high screen or back 
to the stalls at the same church afford an 
336 



instance of a more elaborate method. Intarsia and 

These splendid panels, which go all Inlaid 

1 1 1 . . , - Wood-work. 

round the choir, contam each a three- 
quarter-length figure of a saint. Lanzi 
deservedly praises them as the largest 
and most perfect figures of tarsia which 
he had seen. They date from i486, 
and. were executed by an Istrian artist, 
Bartolommeo da Pola, perhaps from the 
designs of Borgognone. The method 
by which their highly pictorial effect is 
produced is a mixed one, the shading 
being partly inlaid with woods of different 
colours, and partly obtained by scorching 
the wood with fire or hot sand in the 
manner generally in use for marqueterie 
at the present day. The inexhaustible 
patience as well as the fertility of resource 
displayed by Messer Bartolommeo is 
astonishing. Where the saw-cut did not 
give him a strong enough line he has 
inlaid a firm line of black wood, the high 
z 337 



Intarsia and lights of the draperies are inlaid in white, 
Inlaid ^j^g ^^ijg shaded by burning, and the 

Wood-work. . r ^ a- 7 ' 

flowing lines of the curling hair are all 
inlaid, each several tress being shaded by- 
three narrow strips of gradated colour 
following the curved lines of the lock 
to which they belong. When it is 
remembered that there are some forty or 
more of these panels, each differing from 
the rest, the splendour as well as the 
laborious nature of the decoration of 
this unrivalled choir will be better 
understood. 

Of all the examples of pictorial Intarsia 
the most elaborate are perhaps those in 
the choir stalls of Sta. Maria Maggiore 
in Bergamo. They are attributed to 
Gianfrancesco Capo di Ferro, who worked 
from the designs of Lotto, and was either 
a rival or pupil of Fra Damiano di 
Bergamo, a famous master of the art. 
They consist of figure subjects and 
338 



landscapes on a small scale, shaded with Intarsia and 

all the delicacy and roundness attainable „^ ^, ^^ , 
"' , . Wood -work. 

in a tinted drawing, and certainly show 
how near Intarsia can approach to 
painting. Their drawing is excellent 
and their execution marvellous ; but at 
the same time one feels that, however one 
may admire them as a tour de force, the 
limitations of good sense and proper use 
of the material have been reached and 
overstepped. When the delicacy of the 
work is so great that it requires to be 
covered up or kept under glass, it 
obviously quits the province of decorative 
art ; furniture is meant to be used, and 
when it is too precious to be usable on 
account of the over -delicate ornament 
bestowed upon it, it must be admitted 
that the ornament is out of place, and, 
therefore, bad art. 

The later Italian Intarsia was betrayed 
into extravagance by the dexterity of the 

339 



Intarsia and craftsman. The temptation before which 
Inlaid j^g £g|| ^^g ^^^^ ^£ j-iyallitiff the painter. 
Wood -work. . 

and as he advanced in facility of 

technique, and found wider resources at 
his command, he threw aside not only 
those restraints which necessity had 
hitherto imposed, but also those which 
good taste and judgment still called 
him to obey. In the plain unshaded 
arabesques of the Sala del Cambio, and 
even in the figure panels of the Certosa, 
the treatment is purely decorative ; the 
idea of a plane surface is rightly observed, 
and there is no attempt to represent 
distance or to produce illusory effects of 
relief. Above all, the work is solid and 
simple enough to bear handling ; the 
stalls may be sat in, the desks may be 
used for books, the doors may be opened 
and shut, without fear of injury to their 
decoration. Working within these limits, 
the art was safe ; but they came in time 
340 



to be disregarded, and in this, as in other Intarsia and 

Inlaid 
Wood -work. 



branches of art, the style was ruined " ^^ 



by the over- ingenuity of the artists. 
Conscious of their own dexterity, they 
attempted things never done before, with 
means quite unsuited to the purpose, 
and with the sole result that they did 
imperfectly and laboriously with their 
wooden veneers, their glue -pot, and their 
chemicals, what the painter did with 
crayon and brush perfectly and easily. 
Their greatest triumphs after they began 
to run riot in this way, however 
interesting as miracles of dexterity, have 
no value as works of art in the eyes of 
those who know the true principles of 
decorative design ; while nothing can be 
much duller than the elaborate play- 
fulness of the Intarsiatore who loved to 
cover his panelling with sham book-cases, 
birds in cages, guitars, and military 
instruments in elaborate perspective. 

341 



Intarsia and It would take too long to Say much 

Inlaid about the art in its appHcation to 
Wood-work.- . , ,, ^^. 

rurniture, such as tables, chairs, cabinets, 

and other movables, which are decorated 
with inlay that generally goes by the 
French name of marqueterie. Mar- 
queterie and Intarsia are the same thing, 
though from habit the French title is 
generally used when speaking of work 
on a smaller scale. And as the methods 
and materials are the same, whether used 
on a grand or a small scale, so the same 
rules and restraints apply to both classes 
of design, and can no more be infringed 
with impunity on the door of a tall clock- 
case than on the doors of a palatial hall 
of audience. Nothing can be a prettier 
or more practical and durable mode of 
decorating furniture than marqueterie in 
simple brown, black, yellow, and white ; 
and when used with judgment there is 
nothing to forbid the employment of 
342 



dyed woods ; while the smallness of the Intarsia and 
scale puts at our disposal ivory, mother- Wood^work. 
of-pearl, and tortoise-shell, materials which 
in larger works are naturally out of the 
question. Nothing, on the other hand, 
is more offensive to good taste than some 
of the overdone marqueterie of the 
French school of the last century, with 
its picture panels, and naturalesque 
figures, flowers, and foliage, straggling 
all over the surface, as if the article of 
furniture were merely a vehicle for the 
cleverness of the marqueterie cutter. 
Still worse is the modern work of the 
kind, whether English or foreign, of 
which so much that is hopelessly pre- 
tentious and vulgar is turned out now- 
adays, in which the aim of the designer 
seems to have been to cover the surface 
as thickly as he could with flowers and 
festoons of all conceivable colours, with- 
out any regard for the form of the thing 

343 



Intarsia and he was decorating, the nature of the 

nlaid material he was using, or the graceful 
Wood -work. ... r 

disposition and economy of the ornament 

he was contriving. 

T. G. Jackson. 



344 



WOODS AND OTHER 
MATERIALS 

npHE woods in ordinary use by cabinet- 
* makers may be divided broadly 
into two classes, viz. those which by 
their strength, toughness, and other 
qualities are suitable for construction, 
and those which by reason of the beauty 
of their texture or grain, their rarity, or 
their costliness, have come to be used 
chiefly for decorative purposes — veneer- 
ing or inlaying. There are certainly 
several woods which combine the quali- 
ties necessary for either purpose, as will 
be noticed later on. At present the 

345 



Woods and above classification is sufficiently accurate 

other ^Qj. ^j^g purposes of this paper. The 
Materials. . 

woods chiefly used in the construction 

of cabinet work and furniture are oak, 
walnut, mahogany, rosewood, satin-wood, 
cedar, plane, sycamore. 

The oak has been made the standard 
by which to measure all other woods for 
the qualities of strength, toughness, and 
durability. There are said to be nearly 
fifty species of oak known, but the 
common English oak possesses these 
qualities in a far greater degree than 
any other wood. It is, however, very 
cross-grained and difficult to manage 
where delicate details are required, 
and its qualities recommend it to the 
carpenter rather than to the furniture- 
maker, who prefers the softer and 
straight -grained oak from Turkey or 
wainscot from Holland, which, in addi- 
tion to being more easily worked and 
346 



taking a higher finish, is not so liable to Woods and 

warp or split. °^^^^ 

. Materials. 
There is also a species called white 

oak, which is imported into this country 
from America, and is largely used for 
interior fittings and cabinet-making. It 
is not equal to the British oak in strength 
or durability, and it is inferior to the 
wainscot in the beauty of its markings. 
The better the quality of this oak, the 
more it shrinks in drying. 

Walnut is a favourite wood with the 
furniture-maker, as well as the carver, on 
account of its even texture and straight 
grain. The English variety is of a light 
grayish-brown colour, which colour im- 
proves much by age under polish. That 
from Italy has more gray in it, and 
though it looks extremely well when 
carved is less liked by carvers on account 
of its brittleness. It is but little liable 
to the attacks of worms. In the English 

347 



Woods and kind, the older (and therefore, generally 

other speaking, the better) wood may be 
IVIatcrials 

recognised by its darker colour. 

Of mahogany there are two kinds, 
viz. those which are grown in the islands 
of Cuba and Jamaica, and in Honduras. 
The Cuba or Spanish mahogany is much 
the harder and more durable, and is, in 
the opinion of the writer, the very best 
wood for all the purposes of the cabinet 
or furniture maker known to us. It is 
beautifully figured, takes a fine polish, is 
not difficult to work, when its extreme 
hardness is taken into account, and is less 
subject to twisting and warping than any 
other kind of wood. It has become so 
costly of late years, however, that it is 
mostly cut into veneers, and used for the 
decoration of furniture surfaces. 

Honduras mahogany, or, as cabinet- 
makers call it, " Bay Wood," is that 
which is now in most frequent demand 
348 



for the construction of the best kinds of Woods and 

furniture and cabinet work. It is fairly ^^^^^ 

j^lEtcnals 
Strong (though it cannot compare in that 

respect with Cuba or rosewood), works 
easily, does not shrink, resists changes of 
temperature without alteration, and holds 
glue well, all of which qualities specially 
recommend it for the purposes of con- 
struction where veneers are to be used. 
Many cabinetmakers prefer to use this 
wood for drawers, even in an oak job. 

Rosewood is one of those woods used 
indifferently for construction or for the 
decoration of other woods. Though 
beautiful specimens of grain and figure 
are often seen, its colour does not com- 
pare with good specimens of Cuba veneer. 
Its purple tone (whatever stains are used) 
is not so agreeable as the rich, deep, 
mellow browns of the mahogany ; nor 
does it harmonise so readily with its 
surroundings in an ordinary room. It 

349 



Woods and has great strength and durability, and is 

^^^^^ not difficult to work. Probably the best 
Materials. . . , . . , 

way to use it constructively is in the 

making of small cabinets, chairs^ etc. — 

that is, if one wishes for an appearance of 

lightness with real strength. The writer 

does not here offer any opinion as to 

whether a piece of furniture, or indeed 

anything else, should or should not look 

strong when it really is so. 

Satin-wood, most of which comes from 
the West India islands, is well known 
for its fine lustre and grain, as also for its 
warm colour, which is usually deepened 
by yellow stain. It is much used for 
painted furniture, and the plain variety 
is liked by the carver. 

Cedar is too well known to need any 
description here. It is commonly believed 
that no worm will touch it, and it is there- 
fore greatly in demand for the interior 
fitting of cabinets, drawers, etc. It is a 
350 



straight-grained wood and fairly easy to Woods and 

work, though liable to split. It is im- ^^^^^ 

.;, . 1 ,-, 1 Materials. 

possible in a short paper like the present 

to do more than glance at a few of the 

numerous other woods in common use. 

Ebony has always been greatly liked for 

small or elaborate caskets or cabinets, its 

extreme closeness of grain and hardness 

enabling the carver to bring up the 

smallest details with all the sharpness of 

metal work. 

Sycamore, beech, and holly are fre- 
quently stained to imitate walnut, rose- 
wood, or other materials ; of these the 
first two are used constructively, but the 
latter, which takes the stain best, is nearly 
all cut into veneer, and, in addition to its 
use for covering large surfaces, forms an 
important element in the modern mar- 
quetry decorations. 

Bass wood, on account of its softness 
and the facility with which it can be 

351 



Woods and Stained to any requisite shade, is ex- 
other tensively used to imitate other woods in 

l^atcrials 

modern furniture of the cheaper sort. 
It should, however, never be used for 
furniture at all, as it has (as a cabinet- 
maker would say) no " nature " in it, and 
in the result there is no wear in it. 

Other woods, coming under the second 
category, as amboyna, coromandel, snake- 
wood, orange-wood, thuyer, are all woods 
of a beautiful figure, which may be varied 
indefinitely by cutting the veneers at 
different angles to the grain of the wood, 
and the tone may also be varied by the 
introduction of colour into the polish 
which is used on them. Coromandel 
wood is one of the most beautiful of 
these, but it is not so available as it would 
otherwise be on account of its resistance to 
glue. Orange-wood, when not stained, 
is very wasteful in use, as the natural 
colour is confined to the heart of the tree. 
352 



Materials. 



Silver, white metal, brass, etc., are cut Woods and 
into a veneer of tortoise-shell or mother- _ ^^^^"^ 
of-pearl, producing a decorative effect 
which, in the opinion of the writer, is 
more accurately described as " gorgeous" 
than " beautiful." 

There are many processes and materials 

used to alter or modify the colour of 

woods and to " convert " one wood into 

another. Oak is made dark by being 

subjected to the fumes of liquid ammonia, 

which penetrate it to almost any depth. 

Ordinary oak is made into brown oak by 

being treated with a solution of chromate 

of potash (which is also used to convert 

various light woods into mahogany, etc.). 

Pearlash is used for the same purpose, 

though not commonly. For converting 

pear-tree, sycamore, etc., into ebony, two 

or more applications of logwood chips, 

with an after application of vinegar and 

steel filings, are used. 

2 A 353 



Woods and A good deal of bedroom and other 

other furniture is enamelled, and here the 
Materials. .... .... 

ground is prepared with size and whiting, 

and this is worked over with flake white, 

transparent polish, and bismuth. But by 

far the most beautiful surface treatment 

in this kind are the lacquers, composed 

of spirit and various gums, or of shellac 

and spirit into which colour is introduced. 

Stephen Webb. 



354 



OF MODERN EMBROIDERY 

I F we wish to arrive at a true estimate 
^ of the value of modern embroidery, 
we must examine the work being sold 
in the fancy-work shops, illustrated in 
ladies' newspapers or embroidered in the 
drawing-rooms of to-day, and consider 
in what respect it differs from the 
old work such as that exhibited in the 
South Kensington Museum. 

The old embroidery and the modern 
differ widely — in design, in colour, and in 
material ; nor would any one deny that 
a very large proportion of modern work 
is greatly inferior to that of past times. 

355 



Of Modern What, then, are the special charac- 
Erabroidery. teristics of the design of the present day ? 
Modern design is frequently very 
naturalistic, and seems rather to seek 
after a life-like rendering of the object 
to be embroidered than the decoration of 
the material to be ornamented. 

Then again it may be noted that 
modern designs are often ill adapted to 
the requirements of embroidery. This is 
probably because many of the people who 
design for embroidery do not understand 
it. Very often a design that has been 
made for this purpose would have been 
better suited to a wall paper, a panel of 
tiles, or a woven pattern The designer 
should either be also an embroiderer or 
have studied the subject so thoroughly as 
to be able to direct the worker, for the 
design should be drawn in relation to the 
colours and stitches in which it is to be 
carried out. 
356 



The more, indeed, people will study Of Modern 
the fine designs of the past, and compare Embroidery, 
with them the designs of the art-needle- 
work of the present, the more they will 
realise that, where the former is rich, 
dignified, and restrained, obedient to law 
in every curve and line, the latter is florid, 
careless, weak, and ignores law. And how 
finished that old embroidery was, and how 
full ! No grudging of the time or the 
labour spent either on design or needle- 
work ; no scamping ; no mere outlining. 
Border within border we often see, and 
all the space within covered up to the 
edges and into the corners. Contrast 
with this very much of our modern work. 
Let us take as an example one piece that 
was on view this summer at a well-known 
place in London where embroidery is 
sold. It is merely a type of many others 
in many other places. This was a three- 
fold screen made of dark red -brown 

357 



Of Modern velveteen. All over it ran diagonal 
Embroidery, crossing lines coarsely worked in light 
silk, to imitate a wire trellis, with occa- 
sional upright supports worked in brown 
wool, imitating knotty sticks. Up one 
side of this trellis climbed a scrambling 
mass of white clematis; one spray wander- 
ing along the top fell a little way down 
the other side. Thus a good part of the 
screen was bare of embroidery, except for 
the trellis. Naturalism could not go 
much farther, design is almost absent, and 
the result is feeble and devoid of beauty. 
If we turn now to material, we shall 
find that embroidery, like some other 
arts, depends much for its excellence on 
the minor crafts which provide it with 
material ; and these crafts supplied it with 
better material in former times than they 
do now. A stuff to be used as a ground 
for embroidery should have endless 
capacities for wear. This was a quality 
358 



eminently possessed by hand-spun and Of Modern 
hand-woven linen, which, with its ^"^broidery. 
rounded and separate thread, and the 
creamy tint of its partial bleaching, made 
an ideal ground for embroidery. Or if 
silk were preferred, the silks of past 
centuries were at once thick, firm, soft 
and pure, quite free from the dress or 
artificial thickening, by whose aid a 
silk nowadays tries to look rich when 
it is not. The oatmeal cloth, diagonal 
cloth, cotton-backed satin, velveteen and 
plush, so much used now, are very 
inferior materials as grounds for needle- 
work to the hand-loom linens and silks 
on which so large a part of the old 
embroidery remaining to us was worked. 
And so very much of the beauty of the 
embroidery depends on the appropriate- 
ness of the material.^ Cloth, serge, and 
plush are not appropriate ; embroidery 

1 But cf. "Of Materials," p. 365. 

359 



Of Modern never looks half so well on them as on 

Embroidery, g-jj^ ^^^ y^^^^^ 

It is equally important that the thread, 
whether of silk, wool, flax, or metal, 
should be pure and as well made as it 
can be, and, if dyed, dyed with colours 
that will stand light and washing. Most 
of the silk, wool, and flax thread sold 
for embroidery is not as good as it 
should be. The filoselles and crewels 
very soon get worn away from the sur- 
face of the material they are worked on. 
The crewels are made of too soft a wool, 
and are not twisted tight enough, and 
the filoselles, not being made of pure 
silk, should never be used at all, pretty 
and soft though their effect undoubtedly 
is while fresh. Though every imagin- 
able shade of colour can be produced by 
modern dyers, the craft seems to have 
been better understood by the dyers of 

times not very long past, who, though 
360 



they may not have been able to produce Of Modern 

so many shades, could dye colours which Embroidery. 

would wash and did not quickly fade, or 

when they faded merely lost some colour, 

instead of changing colour, as so many 

modern dyes do. The old embroidery 

is worked with purer and fewer colours ; 

now all kinds of dull intermediate tints 

are used of gold, brown, olive, and the 

like, which generally fade rapidly and 

will not wash. Many people, admiring 

old embroidery and desiring to make 

their new work look like it at least in 

colour, will use tints as faint and delicate 

as the faded old colours, forgetting that 

itx a few years their work will be almost 

colourless. It is wiser to use strong 

good colours, for a little fading does not 

spoil but really improves them. 

So we see that many things combine 
to render embroidery as fine as that 

of the past difficult of production, and 

361 



Of Modern there is nothing more against it than 
Embroidery, machinery, which floods the market with 
its cheap imitations, so that an em- 
broidered dress is no longer the choice 
and rare production it once was ; the 
machine-made imitation is so common 
and so cheap that a refined taste, sick of 
the vulgarity of the imitation, cares little 
even for the reality, and seeks refuge in 
an unornamented plainness. The hand- 
worked embroidery glorified and gave 
value to the material it was worked on. 
The machine-work cannot lift it above 
the commonplace. When will people 
understand that the more ornament is 
slow and difficult of production, the more 
we appreciate it when we have got it ; 
that it is because we know that the 
thought of a human brain and the skill 
of a human hand went into every stroke 
of a chisel, every touch of a brush, or 

every stitch placed by the needle, that we 
362 



admire, enjoy, and wonder at the statue. Of Modern 
the picture, or the needlework that is ^^^'°^^"'>^- 
the result of that patience and that skill ; 
and that we do not care about the orna- 
ment at all, and that it becomes lifeless 
always, and often vulgar, when it has 
been made at little or no cost by a 
machine which is ready at any moment 
to produce any quantity more of the 
same thing ? All ornament and pattern 
was once produced by hand only, there- 
fore it was always rare and costly and 
was valued accordingly. Fashions did 
not change quickly. It was worth 
while to embroider a garment beauti- 
fully, for it would be worn for years, for 
a lifetime perhaps ; and the elaborately 
worked counterpane would cover the 
bed in the guest-chamber for more than 
one generation. 

These remarks must be understood to 
apply to the ordinary fancy-work and 

363 



Of Modern so-called " art-needle work " of the present 
Embroidery, j^y^ Twenty years ago there would 
have been no ray of light in the depths 
to which the art of embroidery had 
fallen. Now for some years steady and 
successful efforts have been made by a 
few people to produce once more works 
worthy of the past glories of the art. 
They have proved to us that designers 
can design and that women can execute 
fine embroidery, but their productions 
are but as a drop in the ocean of inferior 
and valueless work. 

Mary E. Turner. 



364 



OF MATERIALS 

A LMOST every fabric that is good 
^^ of its kind is suitable for a 
ground for needlework, and any thread 
of silk, linen, cotton, or wool, is suitable 
for laying on a web, with the purpose of 
decorating it. Yet these materials should 
not be wedded indiscriminately, every 
surface requiring its peculiar treatment ; 
a loose woollen fabric, for example, being 
best covered with wool-work rather than 
with silk. Not that it is necessary to 
work in linen thread on linen ground, in 
silk on silk ground, and so forth ; silk 
upon linen, silk on canvas, wool on 

365 



Of linen, are legitimate, because suitable 
Matenals. combinations ; it being scarcely necessary 
to note that linen or wool threads should 
not be used on silk surface, as to place 
the poorer on the richer material would 
be an error in taste. Gold thread and 
precious stones will of course be reserved 
for the richer grounds, and the more 
elaborate kinds of work. 

A plain or a figured (damask) silk can 
be employed as a ground for needlework, 
the broken surface of a good damask 
sometimes enriching and helping out the 
design. If work is to be laid directly 
on silk ground, it should be rather open 
and light in character ; if closer stitches 
are wanted, the principal forms are 
usually done on a canvas or linen backing, 
which is then cut out and " applied " to 
the final silk ground, the design being 
carried on and completed by lighter work 

of lines and curves, and by the enrichment 
366 



of gold thread, and sometimes even Of 
precious stones. These two methods Materials. 
are a serious and dignified form of em- 
broidery, and were ofi:en used by the 
great mediaeval embroiderers on a rich 
figured or damask silk, and sometimes 
on plain silk, and sometimes on a silky 
velvet. It is not easy to procure ab- 
solutely pure " undressed " silk now, and 
pliable silk velvet of a suitable nature 
is still more difficult to obtain. Satin is, 
to my thinking, almost too shiny a surface 
for a ground, but it may, occasionally, 
be useful for small work. A sort of 
imitation called " Roman satin " is some- 
times employed on account of its cheap- 
ness and effectiveness, I suppose, as it 
cannot be for its beauty; the texture, 
when much handled^ being woolly and 
unpleasant. No one taking trouble to 
procure choice materials will think of 
making use of it. 

367 



Of Floss silk lends itself particularly to 

Matenals. ^^^ j^-^^j ^^ needlework we are speaking 

of; there is no twist on it, the silk is 
pure and untouched, if properly dyed 
has a soft gloss, and a yielding surface 
that renders it quite the foremost of 
embroidery silks, though its delicate 
texture requires skilful handling. But 
avoid silks that profess to be floss with 
the difficulty in handling removed. If 
the old workers could use a pure un- 
twisted floss, surely we can take the 
trouble to conquer this difficulty and do 
the same. Twisted silk, if used on a 
silk ground, should, I think, be rather 
fine ; if thick and much twisted, it stands 
out in relief against the ground and 
gives a hard and ropy appearance. I 
am, in fact, assuming that work on so 
costly a material as pure thick silk is 
to be rather fine than coarse. Gold and 
silver thread is much used with silk, but 
3^^ 



it is almost impossible to keep the silver Of 
from tarnishing. Ordinary ''gold pass- Materials, 
ing," which consists of a gilt silver thread 
wound round silk, is also apt to tarnish, 
and should always be lacquered before 
using — a rather troublesome process to 
do at home, as the gold has to be un- 
wound and brushed over with the lacquer, 
and should be dried in a warm room 
free from damp, or on a hot sunny day. 
Japanese paper -gold is useful, for the 
reason that it does not tarnish, though in 
some ways it is more troublesome to 
manage than the gold that can be threaded 
in a needle and passed through the 
material. It consists, like much of the 
ancient gold thread, of a gilded strip of 
paper wound round silk, the old gold 
being gilded vellum, when not the flat 
gold beaten out thin (as, by the bye, in 
many of the Eastern towels made to-day 

where the flat tinsel is very cleverly used). 
2 B 369 



Of For needlework for more ordinary 

Materials, ^g^g^ linen is by far the most pleasing 
and enduring web. Unlike silk on the 
one side, and wool on the other, it has 
scarcely any limitations in treatment, or 
in material suitable to be used on it. For 
hangings it can be chosen of a loose large 
texture, and covered with bold work 
executed in silk, linen thread, or wool, 
or it can be chosen of the finest thread, 
and covered with minute delicate stitches ; 
it can be worked equally well in the 
hand, or in a frame, and usually the 
more it is handled the better it looks. 
A thick twisted silk is excellent for big 
and coarse work on linen, the stitches 
used being on the same scale, big and 
bold, and finer silk used sparingly if 
needed. White linen thread is often the 
material employed for linen altar cloths, 
coverlets, etc., and some extremely choice 
examples of such work are to be seen in 
370 



our museums, some worked roughly with Of 
a large linen thread and big stitches, some atenals. 
with patient minuteness. It is hardly- 
necessary to say how important the 
design of such work is. 

Different qualities of this material will 
be suggested to the embroideress by her 
needs ; but, before passing to other 
things, I should not omit mention of the 
charming linen woven at Langdale. For 
some purposes it is very useful, as good 
linen for embroidering on is not easy to 
obtain. We have, however, yet to find 
a web which will resemble the rougher 
and coarser linens used for old embroi- 
deries, rather loosely woven, with a thick 
glossy thread, and of a heavy yet yielding 
substance, quite unlike the hard paper- 
like surfaces of machine-made linens. 
The Langdale linen is, of course, hand- 
spun and hand-made, and the flat silky 
thread gives a very pleasant surface ; but, 

371 



Of owing to its price and fine texture, it is 
Materials. ^^^ always Suitable for the purposes of 
large hangings. Many fine examples of 
Persian work, such as quilts and so forth, 
are executed on a white cotton ground, 
neither very fine nor very coarse, entirely 
in floss silk, a variety of stitches being 
used, and the brightest possible colours 
chosen. The cool silky surface of linen, 
however, commends itself more to us than 
cotton, each country rightly choosing the 
materials nearest to hand, in this as in 
other decorative arts. Both linen and 
cotton are good grounds for wool-work, 
of which the most satisfactory kind is 
that done on a large scale, with a variety 
of close and curious stitches within bold 
curves and outlines. 

Canvas and net are open textures of 

linen or cotton, and can be used either 

as a ground-work covered entirely with 

some stitch like the old-fashioned cross- 

372 



stitch or tent -stitch, or some kindred Of 
mechanical stitch, or it can stand as the Materials, 
ground, to be decorated with bright silks. 
The texture of canvas being coarse, the 
design for it should be chosen on a large 
scale, and thick silk used ; floss preferably 
as the glossiest, but a thick twisted silk is 
almost equally effective, and rather easier 
to handle. This canvas is used frequently 
in seventeenth - century Italian room- 
hangings, either in the natural brownish 
colour, or dyed blue or green, the dye 
on it giving a dusky neutral colour 
which well shows up the richness of the 
silk. 

Of woollen materials, cloth is the king; 
though as a ground for needle-decoration 
it has its limitations. It forms a good 
basis for applique, the groups of orna- 
ment being worked separately, and laid 
on the cloth with threads and cords of 
silk, gold, or wool, according to the 

373 



Of treatment decided on. Rough serge gives 
Materials. ^ good Surface for large open wool-work. 
Such work is quickly done, and could be 
made a very pleasing decoration for walls. 
See the delightful inventories of the 
worldly goods of Sir John Fastolf in the 
notes to the Paston Letters, where the 
description of green and blue worsted 
hangings, and "bankers" worked over 
with roses and boughs, and hunting scenes, 
make one long to emulate the rich fancies 
of forgotten arts, and try to plan out 
similar work, much of which was quite 
unambitious and simple, both in design 
and execution. "Slack," a slightly 
twisted wool, worsted and crewel are 
usually the forms of work used ; of these 
slack wool is the pleasantest for large 
work, worsted being too harsh ; crewel 
is very fine and much twisted,^ often met 

* Crewel, cruU, curly : — 

" His locks were cruU as they were laid in press," 
says Chaucer of the Squire in The Canterbury Tales. 

374 



with in old work of a fine kind. The Of 
advantage of wool over silk in cost is Materials. 
obvious, and renders it suitable for the 
commoner uses of life, where lavishness 
would be out of place. 

May Morris. 



375 



COLOUR 

I T is not unusual to hear said of textiles 
and embroideries, *' I like soft quiet 
colouring ; such and such is too bright." 
This assertion is both right and wrong ; 
it shows an instinctive pleasure in har- 
mony combined with ignorance of tech- 
nique. To begin with, colour cannot 
be too bright in itself ; if it appears so, 
it is the skill of the craftsman that is at 
fault. It will be noted in a fine piece 
of work that far from blazing with colour 
in a way to disturb the eye, its general 
effect is that of a subdued glow ; and yet, 
on considering the different shades of the 
376 



colours used, they are found to be in Colour, 
themselves of the brightest the dyer can 
produce. Thus I have seen in an old 
Persian rug light and dark blue flowers 
and orange leaves outlined with turquoise 
blue on a strong red ground, a combina- 
tion that sounds daring, and yet nothing 
could be more peaceful in tone than the 
beautiful and complicated groups of 
colours here displayed. Harmony, then, 
produces this repose, which is demanded 
instinctively, purity and crispness being 
further obtained by the quality of the 
colours used. 

Thus in blues, use the shades that are 
only obtained satisfactorily by indigo 
dye, with such modifications as slightly 
''greening" with yellow when a green- 
blue is wanted, and so forth. The pure 
blue of indigo,^ neither slaty nor too 

1 For notes on the dyer's art and the nature of dye stuffs, 
see William Morris's essay on "Dyeing as an Art," p. 196. 

377 



Colour, hot and red on the one hand, nor tending 
to a coarse " peacock " green-blue on 
the other, is perfect in all its tones, 
and of all colours the safest to use in 
masses. Its modifications to purple on 
one side and green -blue on the other 
are also useful, though to be employed 
with moderation. There are endless 
varieties of useful reds, from pink, salmon, 
orange, and scarlet, to blood -red and 
deep purple -red, obtained by different 
dyes and by different processes of dyeing. 
Kermes, an insect dye, gives a very 
beautiful and permanent colour, rather 
scarlet. Cochineal, also an insect dye, 
gives a red, rather inferior, but useful for 
mixed shades, and much used on silk, of 
which madder and kermes are apt to 
destroy the gloss, the former a good deal, 
the latter slightly. Madder, a vege- 
table dye, " yields on wool a deep-toned 
blood-red, somewhat bricky and tending 
378 



to scarlet. On cotton and linen all Colour, 
imaginable shades of red, according to the 
process." ^ Of the shades into which red 
enters, avoid over-abundant use of warm 
orange or scarlet, which are the more 
valuable (especially the latter) the more 
sparingly used ; there is a dusky orange 
and a faint clear bricky scarlet, sometimes 
met with in old work, that do not need 
this reservation, being quiet colours of 
impure yet beautiful tone. Clear, full 
yellow, fine in itself, also loses its value 
if too plentifully used, or lacking due 
relief by other colours. The pure colour 
is neither reddish and hot in tone, nor 
greenish and sickly It is very abundant, 
for example, in Persian silk embroidery, 
also in Chinese, and again in Spanish 
and Italian work of the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries. The best and 
most permanent yellow dye, especially 

^ William Morris, " Dyeing as an Art." 

379 



Colour, valuable on silk, is weld or " wild 
mignonette." 

Next to blue, green seems the most 
natural colour to live with, and the most 
restful to the eye and brain ; yet it is 
curious to those not familiar with the ins 
and outs of dyeing that it should be 
so difficult to obtain through ordinary 
commercial channels a full, rich, per- 
manent green, neither muddy yellow 
nor coarse bluish. A dyer who 
employed old-fashioned dye-stuffs and 
methods would, however, tell us that 
the greens of commerce are obtained 
by messes, and not by dyes, the only 
method for obtaining good shades being 
that of dyeing a blue of the depth re- 
quired in the indigo-vat, and afterwards 
"greening" it with yellow, with whatever 
modifications are needed. Three sets of 
greens will be found useful for needle- 
work, full yellow-greens of two or three 
380 



shades, grayish-greens, and blue-greens. Colour. 
Of these, the shades tending to grayish- 
green are the most manageable in large 
masses. There is also an olive-green 
that is good, if not too dark and brown, 
when it becomes a nondescript, and as 
such to be condemned. 

Walnut (the roots or the husks or the 
nut) and catechu (the juice of a plant) are 
the most reliable brown dye-stuffs, giving 
good rich colour. The best black, by 
the bye, formerly used, consisted of the 
darkest indigo shade the material would 
take, dipped afterwards in the walnut 
root dye. 

This hasty enumeration of dye-stuffs 
gives an idea of those principally used 
until this century, but now very rarely, 
since the reign of Aniline. Yet they give 
the only really pure and permanent 
colours known, not losing their value by 
artificial light, and very little and 

381 



Colour, gradually fading through centuries of 
exposure to sunlight. It would be pleasant 
if in purchasing silk or cloth one had 
not to pause and consider "will it 
fade ? " meaning not " will it fade in 
a hundred, or ten, or three years ? " but 
"will it fade and be an unsightly rag 
this time next month ? " I cannot see 
that Aniline has done more for us than 
this. 

Colour can be treated in several dif- 
ferent ways : by distinctly light shades, 
whether few or many, on a dark ground, 
which treatment lends itself to great 
variety and effect ; or by dark on a light 
ground, not so rich or satisfying in effect ; 
or again, by colour placed on colour of 
equal tone, as it were a mosaic or 
piecing together of colours united, or 
"jointed," by outlining round the 
various members of the design. Black 

on white, or white on white, a mere 
382 



drawing of a design on the material, Colour, 
scarcely comes under the head of 
Colour, though, as aforesaid, some very 
beautiful work has been done in this 
way. 

As regards method of colouring, it is 
not very possible to give much indi- 
cation of what to use and what to avoid, 
it being greatly a matter of practice, 
and somewhat of instinct, how to unite 
colour into beautiful and complex groups. 
A few hints for and against certain com- 
binations may perhaps be given: for 
instance, avoid placing a blue immediately 
against a green of nearly the same tone ; 
an outline of a different colour disposes 
of this difficulty, but even so, blue and 
green for equally leading colours should 
be avoided. Again, red and yellow, if 
both of a vivid tone, will need a soften- 
ing outline ; also, I think, red and green 
if at all strong ; avoid cold green in 

383 



Colour, contact with misty blue-green, which in 
itself is rather a pretty colour : the 
warning seems futile, but I have seen 
these colours used persistently together, 
and do not like the resulting undecided 
gray tone. A cold strong green renders 
service sometimes, notably for placing 
against a clear brilliant yellow, which 
is apt to deaden certain softer greens. 
Brown, when used, should be chosen 
carefully, warm in tint, but not hot; 
avoid the mixture of brown and yellow, 
often seen in " Art Depots," but not in 
nature, an unfortunate groping after the 
picturesque, as brown wants cooling 
down, and to marry it to a flaming 
yellow is not the way to do it. Black 
should be used very sparingly indeed, 
though by no means banished from the 
palette. Blue and pink, blue and red, 
with a little tender green for relief, 
are perfectly safe combinations for the 
384 



leading colours in a piece of work ; Colour, 
again, yellow and green, or yellow, 
pink, and green, make a delightfully 
fresh and joyous show. There is a large 
coverlet to be seen at the South Ken- 
sington Museum (in the Persian gallery) 
which is worked in these colours, all 
very much the same bright tone, the 
centre being green and yellow and 
pink, and the several borders the 
same, with the order and proportion 
altered to make a variety. In recall- 
ing bright colouring like this, one is 
reminded of Chaucer and his unfail- 
ing delight in gay colours, which he 
constantly brings before us in describing 
garden, woodland, or beflowered gown. 
As— 

" Everich tree well from his fellow grewe 
With branches broad laden with leaves newe 
That sprongen out against the sonne sheene 
Some golden red and some a glad bright grene." 
2 C 385 



Colour. Or, again, the Squire's dress in the Pro- 
logue to The Canterbury Tales — 

" Embrouded was he, as it were a mede 
Alle ful of freshe floures, white and rede." 

May Morris. 



386 



STITCHES AND MECHANISM 

A S a guiding classification of methods 
-^ ^ of embroidery considered from 
the technical point of view, I have set 
down the following heads : — 

(a) Embroidery of materials in 
frames. * 

(<^) Embroidery of materials held in 
the hand. 

(c) Positions of the needle in making 

stitches. 

(d) Varieties of stitches. 

(e) Effects of stitches in relation to 

materials into which they are 
worked. 

387 



Stitches and (/) Methods of stitching different 
Mechanism. materials together. 

(g) Embroidery in relief. 
(h) Embroidery on open grounds 

like net, etc. 
(/) Drawn thread work ; needlepoint 

lace. 
(j) Embroidery allied to tapestry 

weaving. 
In the first place, I define embroidery 
as the ornamental enrichment by needle- 
work of a given material. Such material 
is usually a closely-woven stuff; but skins 
of attiimals, leather, etc., also serve as 
foundations for embroidery, and so do 
nets. 

(tf) Materials to be embroidered may 
be either stretched out in a frame, or 
held loosely (^) in the hand. Ex- 
perience decides when either way is the 
better. For embroidery upon nets, 

frames are indispensable. The use of 
388 



frames is also necessary when a particular Stitches and 

aim of the embroiderer is to secure an Mechanism. 

even tension of stitch throughout his 

work. There are various frames, some 

large and standing on trestles ; in these 

many feet of material can be stretched 

out. Then there are small handy frames 

in which a square foot or two of material 

is stretched ; and again there are smaller 

frames, usually circular, in which a few , 

inches of materials of delicate texture, 

like muslin and cambric, may be 

stretched. 

Oriental embroiderers, like those of 
China, Japan, Persia, and India, are 
great users of frames for their work. 

(c) Stitches having peculiar or in- 
dividual characteristics are compara- 
tively few. Almost all are in use for 
plain needlework. It is through the 
employment of them to render or 
express ornament or pattern that they 

389 



Stitches and become embroidery stitches. Some em- 
Mechanism, broiderers and some schools of em- 
broidery contend that the number of 
embroidery stitches is almost infinite. 
This, however, is probably one of the 
myths of the craft. To begin with, 
there are barely more than two different 
positions in which the needle is held 
for making a stitch — one when the 
needle is passed more or less horizontally 
through the material, the other when 
the needle is worked more or less 
vertically. In respect of the first-named 
way, the point of the needle enters the 
material usually in two places, and one 
pull takes the embroidery thread into 
the material more or less horizontally, 
or along or behind its surface (Fig. i). 
In the second, the needle is passed up- 
wards from beneath the material, pulled 
right through it, and then returned 
downwards, so that there are two pulls 
390 



instead of one to complete a single Stitches and 
stitch. Mechanism. 

A hooked or crochet needle with a 
handle is held more or less vertically for 
working a chain stitch upon the surface 
of a material stretched in a frame, but 




Fig. I . — Stem Stitch — a peculiar use of short stitches. 

this is a method of embroidery involving 
the use of an implement distinct from 
that done with the ordinary and freely- 
plied needle. Still, including this last- 
named method, which comes into the 
class of embroidery done with the needle 

391 



Stitches and in a more or less vertical position, we 
Mechanism. ^^ ^^^ g^^ moTt than two distinctive 

positions for holding the embroidery 

needle. 




Fig. 2. — Chain Stitch. 

(d) Varieties of stitches may be classi- 
fied under two sections : one of stitches 
in which the thread is looped, as in 
chain stitch, knotted stitches, and button- 
392 



hole stitch ; the other of stitches in Stitches and 
which the thread is not looped, but lies Mechanism. 
flatly, as in short and long stitches — 
crewel or feather stitches as they are 
sometimes called, — darning stitches, tent 
and cross stitches, and satin stitch. 




Fig. 3. — Satin Stitch. 

Almost all of these stitches produce 
different sorts of surface or texture in 
the embroidery done with them. Chain 
stitches, for instance, give a broken or 
granular - looking surface (Fig. 2). 
This effect in surface is more strongly 

393 



Stitches and marked when knotted stitches are used. 

Mechanism, g^^'j^ stitches give a flat surface (Fig. 
3), and are generally used for em- 
broidery or details which are to be of an 




Fig. 4. — Feather or Crewel Stitch — a mixture of long 
and short stitches. 

even tint of colour. Crewel or long 
and short stitches combined (Fig. 4) 
give a slightly less even texture than 
satin stitches. Crewel stitch is specially 
adapted to the rendering of coloured 
394 



surfaces of work in which different tints Stitches and 
are to modulate into one another. Mechanism. 

(e) The effects of stitches in relation 
to the materials into which they are 
worked can be considered under two 
broadly-marked divisions. The one is 
in regard to embroidery which is to 
produce an effect on one side only of a 
material ; the other to embroidery which 
shall produce similar effects equally on 
both the back and front of the material. 
A darning and a satin stitch may be 
worked so that the embroidery has 
almost the same effect on both sides of 
the material. Chain stitch and crewel 
stitch can only be used with regard to 
effect on one side of a material. 

(/) But these suggestions for a 
simple classification of embroidery do not 
by any means apply to many methods 
of so-called embroidery, the effects of 
which depend upon something more 

395 



Stitches and than stitches. In these other methods 
Mechanism, cutting materials into shapes, stitching 
materials together, or on to one another, 
and drawing certain threads out of a 
woven material and then working over 
the undrawn threads, are involved. 
Applied or applique work is generally 
used in connection with ornament of 
bold forms. The larger and principal 
forms are cut out of one material and 
then stitched down to another — the 
junctures of the edges of the cut-out 
forms being usually concealed and the 
shapes of the forms emphasised by cord 
stitched along them. Patchwork depends 
for successful effect upon skill in cutting 
out the several pieces which are to be 
stitched together. Patchwork is a sort 
of mosaic work in textile materials ; 
and, far beyond the homely patchwork 
quilt of country cottages, patchwork 
lends itself to the production of 
396 



ingenious counterchanges of form and Stitches and 
colour in complex patterns. These Mechanism, 
methods of applique and patchwork are 
peculiarly adapted to ornamental needle- 
work which is to lie, or hang, stretched 
out flatly, and are not suited therefore 
to work in which is involved a calculated 
beauty of effect from folds. 

(g) There are two or three classes of 
embroidery in relief which are not well 
adapted to embroideries on lissome 
materials in which folds are to be con- 
sidered. Quilting is one of these classes. 
It may be artistically employed for 
rendering low-relief ornament, by means 
of a stout cord or padding placed be- 
tween two bits of stuff, which are then 
ornamentally stitched together so that 
the cord or padding may fill out and 
give slight relief to the ornamental 
portions defined by and enclosed between 
the lines of stitching. There is also 

397 



Stitches and padded embroidery or work consisting 

Mechanism, ^f ^ number of details separately wrought 

in relief over padding of hanks of thread, 

wadding, and such like. Effects of high 



^_i^lZ^u^ 




^^"^ 



Fig. 5. — A form of Embroidery in relief, called "Couching." 

relief are obtainable by this method. 
Another class, but of lower relief em- 
broidery, is couching (Fig. 5), in which 
cords and gimps are laid side by side, 
in groups, upon the face of a material, 
398 



and then stitched down to it. Various Stitches and 
effects can be obtained in this method. Mechanism. 
The colour of the thread used to stitch 
the cords or gimp down may be different 
from that of the cords or gimp, and the 
stitches may of course be so taken as 
to produce small powdered or diaper 
patterns over the face of the groups of 
cords or gimp. Gold cords are often 
used in this class of work, which is 
peculiarly identified with ecclesiastical 
embroideries of the fifteenth and six- 
teenth centuries, as also with Japanese 
work of later date. 

(Ji) The embroidery and work hitherto 
alluded to has been such as requires a 
foundation of a closely woven nature, 
like linen, cloth, silk, and velvet. But 
there are varieties of embroidery done 
upon netted or meshed grounds. And 
on to these open grounds, embroidery in 
darning and chain stitches can be wrought. 

399 



Stitches and For the most part the embroideries upon 
Mechanism. ^^^^ ^^ meshed grounds have a lace-like 
appearance. In lace, the contrast be- 
tween close work and open, or partially- 
open, spaces about it plays an important 
part. The methods of making lace by 
the needle, or by bobbins on a cushion, 
are totally distinct from the methods of 
making lace-like embroideries upon net. 
(/') Akin to lace and embroideries 
upon net is embroidery in which much 
of its special effect is obtained by the 
withdrawal of threads from the material, 
and then either whipping or overcasting 
in button -hole stitches the undrawn 
threads. The Persians and embroiderers 
in the Grecian Archipelago have excelled 
in such work, producing wondrously 
delicate textile grills of ingenious geo- 
metric patterns. In this drawn thread 
work, as it is called, we often meet with 

the employment of button-hole stitching, 
400 



which is an important stitch in making Stitches and 
needlepoint lace (Fig. 6). Mechanism. 

U) w^ ^^^^ ^^^^ "^^^^ ^^^ ^^^ °^ ^ 

weaving stitch resembling in effect, on a 
small scale, willow weaving for hurdles. 
This weaving stitch, and the method of 
compacting together the threads made 




Fig. 6. — Button-hole Stitching, as used in needlepoint lace. 



with it, are closely allied to that special 

method of weaving known as tapestry 

weaving. Some of the earliest specimens 

of tapestry weaving consist of ornamental 

borders, bands, and panels, which were 

inwoven into tunics and cloaks worn 
2 D 401 



Stitches and by Greeks and Romans from the fourth 
Mechanism, century before Christ, up to the eighth 
or ninth after Christ. The scale of the 
work in these is so small, as compared 
with that of large tapestry wall-hangings 
of the fifteenth century, that the method 
may be regarded as being related more 
to drawn thread embroidery than to 
weaving into an extensive field of warp 
threads. 

A sketch of the different employments 
of the foregoing methods of embroidery 
is not to be included in this paper. The 
universality of embroidery from the 
earliest of historic times is attested by 
evidences of its practice amongst primi- 
tive tribes throughout the world. Frag- 
ments of stitched materials or undoubted 
indications of them have been found in 
the remains of early American Indians, 
and in the cave dwellings of men who 

lived thousands of years before the 
402 



period of historic Egyptians and As- Stitches and 
Syrians. Of Greek short and long Mechanism, 
stitch, and chain stitch and applique 
embroidery, there are specimens of the 
third or fourth century b.c. preserved 
in the Hermitage at St. Petersburg. 
Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and 
Romans were skilful in the use of 
tapestry weaving stitches. Dainty em- 
broidery, with delicate silken threads, was 
practised by the Chinese long before 
similar work was done in the countries 
west of Persia, or in countries which 
came within the Byzantine Empire. In 
the early days of that Empire, the 
Emperor Theodosius I. framed rules 
respecting the importation of silk, and 
made regulations for the labour employed 
in the gyncecea^ the public weaving and 
embroidering rooms of that period, the 
development and organisation of which 
are traceable to the apartments allotted 

403 



Stitches and in private houses to the sempstresses and 
Mechanism, embroideresses who formed part of the 

well-to-do households of early classic 

times. 

Alan S. Cole. 



404 



DESIGN 



^^ Drink ivaters out of thine own cistern^ and running ivaters 
out of thine oivn ivell" — Solomon. 

'■^Produce; produce; be it but the infinitesimallest product^ 
ice." — Carlyle. 



pOR the last sixty years, ever since 
the Gothic Revival set in, we have 
done our best to resuscitate the art of 
embroidery. First the Church and then 
the world took up the task, and much 
admirable work has been done by the 
" Schools," the shops, and at home. 
And yet the verdict still must be " the 
old is better." 

Considering all things, this lack of 
absolute success is perplexing and needs 

405 



Design, to be explained. For we have realised 
our ideals. Never was a time when the 
art and science of needlework were so 
thoroughly understood as in England at 
the present moment. Our designers can 
design in any style. Every old method 
is at our fingers* ends. Every ingenious 
stitch of old humanity has been mastered, 
and a descriptive name given to it of our 
own devising. Every traditional pattern 
— wave, lotus, daisy, convolvulus, honey- 
suckle, " Sacred Hom " or tree of life ; 
every animal form, or bird, fish or 
reptile, has been traced to its source, 
and its symbolism laid bare. Every 
phase of the world's primal schools of 
design — Egyptian, Babylonian, Indian, 
Chinese, Greek, Byzantine, European — 
has been illustrated and made easy of 
imitation. We are archaeologists : we 
are critics : we are artists. We are 

lovers of old work : we are learned in 
406 



historical and aesthetic questions, in Design, 
technical rules and principles of design. 
We are colourists, and can play with 
colour as musicians play with notes. 
What is more, we are in terrible earnest- 
ness about the whole business. The 
honour of the British nation, the credit 
of Royalty, are, in a manner, staked 
upon the success of our "Schools of 
Needlework." And yet, in spite of all 
these favouring circumstances, we get 
no nearer to the old work that first 
mocked us to emulation in regard to 
power of initiative and human interest. 

Truth and gallantry prompt me to 
add, it is not in stitchery but in design 
that we lag behind the old. Fair 
English hands can copy every trick of 
ancient artistry : finger-skill was never 
defter, will was never more ardent to do 
fine things, than now. Yet our work 

hangs fire. It fails in design. Why ? 

407 



Design. Now, Emerson has well said that all 

the arts have their origin in some en- 
thusiasm. Mark this, however : that 
whereas the design of old needlework is 
based upon enthusiasm for birds, flowers, 
and animal life,^ the design of modern 
needlework has its origin in enthusiasm 
for antique art. Nature is, of course, 
the groundwork of all art, even of ours ; 
but it is not to Nature at first-hand that 
we go. The flowers we embroider were 
not plucked from field and garden, but 
from the camphor-scented preserves at 
Kensington. Our needlework conveys 
no pretty message of 

" The life that breathes, the life that lives," 
it savours only of the now stiffs and 
stark device of dead hands. Our art 
holds no mirror up to Nature as we 

^ A strip of sixteenth -century needlework in my pos- 
session (6 ft. by 2 ft. 6 in.) figures thirty different specimens 
of plants, six animals, and four birds, besides ornamental 
sprays of foliage. 
408 



see her, it only reflects the reflection of Design. 
dead periods. Nay, not content with 
merely rifling the motifs of moth-fretted 
rags, we must needs turn for novelty to 
an old Persian tile which, well magnified, 
makes a capital design for a quilt that 
one might perchance sleep under in spite 
of what is outside ! Or we are not 
ashamed to ask our best embroideresses 
to copy the barbaric wriggles and child- 
like crudities of a seventh-century "Book 
of Kells," a task which cramps her style 
and robs Celtic art of all its wonder. 

We have, I said, realised our ideals. 
We can do splendidly what we set our- 
selves to do — namely, to mimic old 
masterpieces. The question is. What 
next? Shall we continue to hunt old 
trails, and die, not leaving the world 
richer than we found it ? Or shall we 
for art and honour's sake boldly adven- 
ture something — drop this wearisome 

409 



Design, translation of old styles and translate 
Nature instead ? 

Think of the gain to the " Schools," 
and to the designers themselves, if we 
elect to take another starting - point ! 
No more museum-inspired work ! No 
more scruples about styles ! No more 
dry-as-dust stock patterns! No more 
loathly Persian-tile quilts ! No more 
awful '* Zoomorphic " table-cloths ! No 
more cast-iron-looking altar cloths, or 
Syon Cope angels, or stumpy Norfolk- 
screen saints! No more Tudor roses 
and pumped- out Christian imagery 
suggesting that Christianity is dead and 
buried! But, instead, we shall have 
design hy living men/^r living men — 
something that expresses fresh realisa- 
tions of sacred facts, personal brood- 
ings, skill, joy in Nature — in grace of 
form and gladness of colour ; design 

that shall recall Shakespeare's maid who 
410 



"... with her neeld composes Design. 

Nature's own shape, of bud, bird, branch, or berry. 
That even Art sisters the natural roses." 

For, after all, modern design should 
be as the old — living thought, artfully- 
expressed : fancy that has taken fair 
shapes. And needlework is still a 
pictorial art that requires a real artist to 
direct the design, a real artist to ply the 
needle. Given these, and our needle- 
work can be as full of story as the 
Bayeux tapestry, as full of imagery as 
the Syon Cope, and better drawn. The 
charm of old embroidery lies in this, 
that it clothes current thought in current 
shapes. It meant something to the 
workers, and to the man in the street 
for whom it was done. And for our 
work to gain the same sensibility, the 
same range of appeal, the same human 
interest, we must employ the same 

means. We must clothe modern ideas 

411 



Design, in modern dress ; adorn our design with 
living fancy, and rise to the height of 
our knowledge and capacities. 

Doubtless there is danger to the un- 
trained designer in direct resort to 
Nature. For the tendency in his or her 
case is to copy outright, to give us pure 
crude fact and not to design at all. 
Still there is hope in honest error : none 
in the icy perfections of the mere stylist. 
For the unskilled designer there is no 
training like drawing from an old herbal ; 
for in all old drawing of Nature there 
is a large element of design. Besides 
which, the very limitations of the 
materials used in realising a design in 
needlework, be it ever so naturally 
coloured, hinders a too definite presenta- 
tion of the real. 

For the professional stylist, the con- 
firmed conventionalist, an hour in his 

garden, a stroll in the embroidered 
412 



meadows, a dip into an old herbal, a Design, 
few carefully-drawn cribs from Curtis's 
Botanical Magazine, or even — for 
lack of something better — Sutton's 
last Illustrated Catalogue, is wholesome 
exercise, and will do more to revive the 
original instincts of a true designer than 
a month of sixpenny days at a stuffy 
museum. The old masters are dead, 
but " the flowers," as Victor Hugo says, 
" the flowers last always." 

John D. Sedding. 



413 



ON DESIGNING FOR THE ART 
OF EMBROIDERY 

IN every form of art the thing which 
^ is of primary importance is the 
question of Design. 

By Design I understand the inventive 
arrangement of lines and masses, for their 
own sake, in such a relation to one another, 
that they form a fine, harmonious whole : 
a whole, that is, towards which each part 
contributes, and is in such a combina- 
tion with every other part that the 
result is a unity of effect, so completely 
satisfying us that we have no sense of 

demanding in it more or less. 
414 



After this statement and definition let On Design- 
me proceed to touch briefly upon four ^"^ ^^^ ^^^ 
points in relation to the matter, as it Embroidery, 
concerns itself with the art of Em- 
broidery ; and the first of these four 
points shall be this. Before you com- 
mence your design, consider carefully the 
conditions under which the finished 
work is to be seen. There is a tendency 
in embroidery to be too uniformly 
delicate and minute. To be too delicate, 
or even minute, in something which is 
always to be seen close under one's 
eyes is, it may be, impossible ; but in 
an altar-cloth, a banner, a wall-hanging, 
this delicacy and minuteness are not 
merely thrown away, but they tend to 
make the thing ineffective. For such 
objects as these I have mentioned, the 
main lines and masses of the design 
should, it would seem in the nature of 
the case, be well emphasised ; if they are 

415 



On Design- well emphasised, and of course fine in 
ing for the ^j^^-j. character and arrangement, there 
Embroiden\ ^^ produced a sense of largeness and 
dignity which is of the highest value, 
and for the absence of which no amount 
of curious workmanship will atone. In 
making your design, let these main lines 
and masses be the first things you attend 
to, and secure. Stand away at a distance, 
and see if they tell out satisfactorily, 
before you go on to put in a single touch 
of detail. 

For the second point : remember that 
embroidery deals with its objects as if 
they were all on the same plane. It has 
been sometimes described as the art of 
painting with the needle ; but it neces- 
sarily and essentially differs from the art 
of painting in this, that it, properly, 
represents all things as being equally 
near to you, as laid out before you on 

the same plane. It would seem, therefore, 
416 



to be a sound rule to fill the spaces, On Design- 
left for vou by the arrangement of your ^^S fo^ the 
main Imes and masses, with such torms Embroidery, 
as shall occupy these spaces, one by one, 
completely ; with such patterns, I mean, 
as shall appear to have their natural and 
full development within the limits of 
each space : avoid the appearance of one 
thing being behind the other, with 
portions of it cut off and obscured by 
what comes in front of it. But in this, 
as in so much else, an immense deal • 

must be left to the instinct of the artist. 
Thirdly : aim at simplicity in the 
elements or motives of your design ; 
do not crowd it with a score of different 
elements, which produce a sense of con- 
fusion and irritation, and, in reality, 
prove only a poverty of invention. A 
real richness of invention, as well as a 
richness of effect, lies in using one or 

two, perhaps at most three, elements, 
2 E 417 



On Design- with variety in the treatment of them, 
ing for the Make yourself thoroughly master of the 
Embroidery, essential pomts, m whatever elements 
you choose as the basis of your design, 
before you set pencil to paper ; and you 
will find in almost any natural form you 
fix upon more than enough to give you 
all the variety and richness you require, 
if you have sufficient natural fancy to 
play with it. 

Lastly : return again and again, and 
for evermore, to Nature. The value of 
studying specimens of old embroidery is 
immense ; it makes you familiar with 
the principles and methods, which ex- 
perience has found to be true and use- 
ful ; it puts you into possession of the 
traditions of the art. He that has no 
reverence for the traditions of his art 
seals his own doom ; he that is careless 
about them, or treats them with super- 
ciliousness, or will not give the time and 
418 



pains necessary to understand them, but On Design- 
thinks to start ojfF afresh along clean ^"S ^°^ ^^^ 
new lines of his own, stamps himself £^^^1^^.^^^^^. 
as an upstart — makes himself perhaps, 
if he is clever, a nine days' curiosity — 
but loses himself, by and by, in ex- 
travagances, and brings no fruit to 
perfection. The study of old work, / 

then, is of the highest importance, is 
essential ; the patient and humble study 
of it. But for what end? To learn 
principles and methods, to secure a 
sound foundation for oneself; not to 
slavishly imitate results, and live on 
bound hand and foot in the swaddling 
clothes of precedent. Learn your 
business in the schools, but go out to 
Nature for your inspirations. See Nature 
through your own eyes, and be a per- 
sistent and curious observer of her in- 
finite wonders. Yet to see Nature in 

herself is not everything, it is but half 

419 



On Design- the matter ; the other half is to know 
ing for the j^^^ ^^ ^g^ j^^j. f^^ ^j^^ purposes of fine 

Embroiden^ art, to know how to translate her into the 
language of art. And this knowledge 
we acquire by a sound acquaintance 
with the essential conditions of whatever 
art we practise, a frank acceptance of 
these conditions, and a reverential ap- 
preciation of the teaching and examples 
of past workmen. Timidity and impu- 
dence are both alike fatal to an artist : 
timidity, which makes it impossible for 
him to see with his own eyes, and 
find his own methods ; and impudence, 
which makes him imagine that his own 
eyes, and his own methods, are the best 

that ever were. 

Selwyn Image. 



Printed by R. & R. Clark, Edinburgh 
420 



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Crown Svo, With Illustrations. 6s. 

Recollections of Dr. John Brown 

Author of ' Rab and His Friends.' 

With Selections from Correspondence. 

By ALEXANDER PEDDIE, M.D., F.R.C.P.E., F.R.S.E., Etc. 

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By MAUDE EGERTON KING. 
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Author of 'Our South African Empire,' * A History of the Dominion of 
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Venice 
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personality ; to trace, as it were, in brief her biography ; attempt- 
ing to show what made her ; how she grew ; what mistakes she 
committed, and how she paid for them ; and this attempt seemed 
the more reasonable in this case, because throughout the history 
of Venice the personality of the States is always more prominent 
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' Mr. Brown has imprisoned the atmo- 
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The History of English Serfdom. Prof. W. J. Ashley, M.A. 
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Second Edition. Demy i6mo. 2s. 6d. 
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' We cordially commend this most in- 



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15 



Vol. I. Crown 8vo. Js. 6d. 

France of To-day 

A Survey, Comparative and Retrospective. 

To be completed in Two Volumes, Sold separately. 

By M. BETHAM EDWARDS, 

Officier de L'Instruction Publique de France. 

Editor of Arthur Young's ' Travels in France. ' 

Contents of Vol. i. 
Introductory. Part I. — Provinces: Bourbonnais, Auvergne, Velay, 
Languedoc, Pyrenees. Part II. — Provinces: Anjou, Poitou, Gascoigne, 
Berry. Part III. — Alsace-Lorraine. Part IV. — Franche-Comte, 
Burgundy, Le Morvan. Appendix. Index. 



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Crown Svo. ^s. 6(/. 
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The Forest Cantons of Switzerland 

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this delightful country to procure a copy 
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' We advise all who take an interest in 



Westminster Review. 

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